House Steenkamp
HOUSE STEENKAMP Description Designed in four phases, the house is an ongoing project – an organic building that grows over time. The children’s quarters act as a prototype which duplicates as a second phase, completing the family hub. A more formal extension includes a “performance” stage adjoining the garage, which doubles as an auditorium. The brief excluded the straight line but demanded coherence in form and function. Each phase needed to be complete yet open ended. This paradox finds its conclusion in the fact that the architecture would continue as it embraces the law of entropy. The architect stands back as the “green” roof starts to take form and the owner is permitted to intervene with mosaics and colour at his own discretion. The design challenges the participant to abandon associations and explore the raw quality of space. Daylight projected onto curved walls guides one through a series of unexpected rooms, opening into double volumes and vertical progressions. Recessed ladders connect to upper rooms and gives access to the roof garden. Steps in the main bedroom lead to a raised bath, adjoining the shower, to ensure eye level communication. A porthole above the bath’s landing gives access to a cloud chamber – a place of escape and meditation. Unconventional circulation routes and multi-level experiences remind of a three-dimensional labyrinth, enhancing a subconscious child-like spontaneity. Governed by a tight budget, the project was undertaken by a friend of the architect with no building experience. Communication was done via an extensive 3D model and on-site sketches. Each tradesman was allowed a hands-on approach. Brick-layers had to adapt their perceptions as they were given liberty to contour their brick courses, resulting in an enigmatic process fuelled by intuition and dialogue between architect, owner and tradesman. This strong process-motivated approach leaves the architect facing a work that might never be finished within the theoretical construct.


30 photos and 10 drawings

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