WORDS Mila Crewe-Brown PHOTOS Dook PRODUCTION Annemarie Meintjes
Guided by the owners’ brief for a minimalist house and the estate’s strict architectural regulations, the architect of this Ekurhuleni house used linearity to capture the essence of modern living.
When Dominique Fourie of Indy Spirit Worx refers to herself as an “extreme minimalist” with a love of concrete, she means it. She describes her dream home as one that is bare, a functional and stripped-down space. It’s easy to understand – the mental peace gained from living in a house so streamlined and spartan is irrefutable.
The facade of Rosa and Chaka Smith’s home in a high-end golf and wildlife estate in Kempton Park is emphatically modern. Lines – projecting, intersecting and running in parallel – are its primary language. A rectangular box clad in Rheinzink protrudes from a monolithic concrete structure.
From the street, this fortress-like house gives little away. A long walkway of balau decking runs perpendicular to the home’s east-west linear orientation, visibly drawing the visitor in. As straight as an arrow, the footpath guides you past a large open courtyard concealed from the street and delivers you into an aptly spare entrance hall.
The house is constructed predominantly of two elongated concrete cubes, the top box projecting over the lower living box. In line with its mandate of minimalism and order, the Smiths’ home is further divided into three categories: utility (clad in Rheinzink), living and private.
The Smiths were owner-builders, which meant the build took twice as long as it would normally. “We were here every day for three years and didn’t take a week off,” recalls Rosa, noting proudly that they received an award for the neatness of their site. This is not surprising, as Rosa, Chaka and architect Dominique all cite perfectionism as one of their principal traits. It wasn’t the last award the house received either: In 2017, Dominique scooped the PIA Award for Residential Architecture New.
Apart from the concrete-and-glass stairwell connecting the two levels and a small dividing wall sectioning off the bar lounge, the ground level runs in one open sweep, encompassing the TV lounge, dining room and kitchen.
The Smiths’ home captures the shifting light through vast double-glazed sliding doors and windows. “The use of glazing was to specifically achieve unimpeded views with an infinite relationship between inside and outside and an abundance of natural light and transparency by day,” Dominique says. In the evenings, LED strip lights glow from within white glass cavities and concrete recesses, turning the house into a light box of sorts.
What makes this home an architectural anomaly is that it faces south. To draw in light and warmth, Dominique devised the large central courtyard where sun punches into north-facing windows. Upstairs, an impressive 11 m run of ribbon windows allows north light into the passage that links the bedrooms.
Were it up to Dominique, the staircase would be without a handrail and the floors without carpeting… The home is not without warmth and delight – the two spare bedrooms are regularly occupied by Rosa and Chaka’s two children and grandchild, and Rosa’s anthology of collectibles and vintage pieces brings character to the interior. “Relaxing in our spacious home overlooking the golf course and clubhouse, every day is a holiday!” Chaka enthuses.