Waterkloof Ridge Family Home

PHOTOS Dook PRODUCTION Annemarie Meintjes WORDS Adele de Lange


A master at his craft, architect Thomas Honiball created the perfect canvas for a Pretoria family to paint the picture they want to live in.

Stepping through the majestic double doors into “the heart of the house”, as architect Thomas Honiball describes the spacious entrance hall, it takes one look to realise there is indeed a lot of heart hidden inside the Modernist exterior of this Pretoria family home. Perched on the rocky slopes of Waterkloof Ridge, the crisp white structure sits cool and aloof against the bright blue African sky, but inside the space is characterised by soft hues and subtle shades of warm light that reflect from clerestory windows into the generous spaces below.

Thomas looked towards the exceptional qualities of the site, the family’s lifestyle and his own design style to shape the concept of the house: “Since the family and I have known one another for years, they trusted me to create a home they would love and that would be suited to their needs. I aimed to design a house for them that’s generously proportioned, easy to live in and clutter-free.”

The minimalist detailing and the subtle interplay between light and space are reminiscent of the early Modernist architectural masters. “I am especially inspired by Brazilian architect Oscar Niemeyer,” Thomas says, “and for this design I looked towards the Brazilian-inspired architecture of Mozambique, where the family spend most of their holidays.”

The steep site posed quite a challenge, especially because the sporty family required a 25 m-long lap pool and a patch of lawn in front of the house for the kids to play cricket, but the spectacular views from the terrace made the additional earthworks worthwhile. “We simply had to maximise the magnificent views,” Thomas says.

There are uninterrupted views of the Union Buildings and the city centre beyond from both the entertainment spaces downstairs and the private spaces upstairs, all connected to the double-volume entrance hall. The spacious kitchen, living and dining areas link to become one large space for big functions.

The laid-back, easy-living look and feel of the interiors reflect the relationship Thomas and interior designer Adéle van der Merwe have with their clients. “We had a wonderfully open line of communication throughout the project,” says Thomas. He introduced Adéle to his clients, knowing that her subtle design style would be a good match for the family’s relaxed entertainer lifestyle.

Opting to complement the architecture with the interior style rather than compete with it, she continued the understated contemporary look with classic lines and muted colours. “Having a pre-teen family myself,” says Adéle, “I understood that the interior design needed to evolve along with the changing needs of a growing family, and that it should be flexible enough to let the family’s own touches shine through.”