Sep 072012
 
Project information

Name: House Goldberg
Client: Dennis and Edelgard Goldberg
Location: Hout Bay, Cape Town
Status: Built 2004

House Goldberg is one of three houses in the same street in Hout Bay by Noero Wolff Architects. One was previously published in SA Architectural Digest. The third house is currently under construction.

All three houses engage in a common set of issues. Firstly, the designs seek to deal with the tension that exists in the area between the sea view and the awful South Easter. This issue is dealt with in all three houses by wrapping the spaces of the houses around courtyards on three sides to give protection from the South Easter, while simultaneously opening the courts to the place where one lives.

Secondly, all three houses seek to find the architectural means to give expression to the local, everyday culture with regard to the place where one lives.

Thirdly, they seek to give expressions to the privilege of living in the Cape and to find the architectonic means to give expression to that pleasure in an easy and relaxed manner.

House Two is for an engineer. It’s a U-shaped house whose principal facade faces Hout Bay and opens backwards onto a north-facing courtyard, which opens onto the mountain views while protecting the court from the South Easter. The design for the house required the development of a utilitarian expression that could be understood in clear, no-nonsense terms.

Simultaneously, the design of the house seeks to destabilise the rational and utilitarian language of conventional engineering culture by twisting and bending certain spaces within the house to achieve not only utilitarian purpose but architectural delight at the same time. This strategy is developed further with the compositional treatment of the principal facade that faces Hout Bay. The facade is treated in a fairly conventional manner in as much as it’s composed symmetrically along a bilateral axis.

However, in the spirit of compositional subversion agreed upon at the outset of the project, not everything is quite as it appears at first glance. The double-storey box-like timber terrace that is pushed out from the front of the house appears to anchor the composition symmetrically.

Closer examination reveals that this is not the case. Similarly, windows and overhangs don’t line up without making their differences apparent. This is deliberate and these moves derive purposively from the architects’ view that good design is rooted in an understanding of composition, which can be subverted and adjusted, but requires a reference to an anchor against which all compositional moves can be measured.

The materials refer to a language of modern architecture which the architects’ believe is very much part of contemporary architectural expression in the Cape. Tectonically the choices express a concern to anchor values in an everyday expression that is known and understood without recourse to arcane architectural rhetoric.