House Nxumalo

Location Alexandra Township, Johannesburg
Dates Completed 1988
Client Dr Theresa Nxumalo
Architect Jo Noero Architects
Engineer Jo Rosnovanu and Associates
Contractor Gel Build Construction

Dr Theresa Nxumalu, a well known community health worker moved from Soweto to Alexandra and commissioned the new house in 1987. The house is situated on a sloping north facing site. The house is located on three levels and entry occurs at the mid level. At this level is the kitchen – from here one moves upwards to the bedrooms and down to the living area. All levels are visible from the entrance level. The house is 90 meters squared in area.

The house continues a fascination of the architect with two ideas. The first idea concerns  the section as a generator of form which is clear from the design drawings. Also there is the idea of literal transparency – amongst other matters this means being able to understand the spatial strategy of the house by the treatment of the external facades.

The structural frame is exaggerated by placing all other external components within the frame. In this way transparency is reinforced by revealing in the clearest possible way the manner of construction. A steel frame is employed in reference to the mining technology prevalent in the Witwatersrand and all other materials used are ubiquitous in Johannesburg.

Sectionally the house is split in the middle with a roof-light which floods the interior of the house from the top to the bottom. This natural light perceptually increase the sense of space in what is a very small house.

Window and openings and roof overhangs are all employed to provide appropriate shading, decent cross ventilation and adequate natural light.

By using a framed structure and employing a 75 mm sandwich infill panel rather than a conventional 280 mm cavity brick wall seven square meters of extra floor space was created – in a 90 square meter house this represents an additional room.

The house is resourceful in that it attempts to achieve maximum ends with minimum means.