Site progress – 20 february

Stand 47 is buzzing with activity as some of the final stages of construction are under way. About seven months into the project there is little left to the imagination as the house is taking on its final form and finish. The energy on site is high, trying to get all of the last details in place before practical completion. The steel screens are being installed on the eastern façade and internally the walls are being prepared to be painted, and skirtings and joinery are being fitted. In addition, the heat-pump has been installed as have the rain-water tanks on the western edge of the building. Landscaping is progressing well, with the site levels adjusted, veld grasses seeded and the placement of trees and aloes.

Installing the steel screen on the east facade

Internal walls are up


Living area looking toward the kitchen with the clerestory forming a prominent feature of the room


Main bedroom internal walls erected and treated with Rhinolite.


One of the two additional bedrooms


Rain-water tanks & landscaping

Heat-pump & joinery


20 February 2014

Good news for home builders


The National Home Builders Registration Council (NHBRC) recognise that homes using Light Steel Frame Construction built in accordance with SANS 517:2009 are legible for enrolment with the NHBRC.

For more information please contact:
Paimaan Byron 011 317 0000

The layers that make up our walls

Through the process of building Stand 47, we have been trying to demonstrate how we can deliver excellence in quality housing design and construction by pushing innovation through our choice of materials. We have done this in two ways: firstly, we have used a combination of materials & techniques simultaneously; ‘heavy’ masonry and stone materials, along with ‘light’ steel frames. Secondly, we have used light steel frame construction almost exclusively in the main body of the house, to demonstrate the versatility, quality and efficiency of light steel frame structures with Saint-Gobain cladding as an alternative to masonry. In the same way that Stand 47’s architecture consists of a layering of design elements, our walls also consist of layers that together produce a high-quality, state-of-the-art solution. In this post, we unpack these layers and explain how they were put together.

Combining technologies

The American architect, Louis Kahn urged architects to question the use of materials for their best purpose…to really think about what ‘a brick’ wants to be, and then use it accordingly. This philosophy is very important in the process of reaching an architectural solution; to consider what materials can do, and what their properties allow them to be in a building. At Stand 47, the use of a combination of construction techniques was decided on to show not only how materials can be used to accentuate their properties, but also how they can work together in a single system and need not be used in isolation. There might be a perception that using light steel in combination with masonry (new or existing) is not possible, however, these materials do work well together. The following images show the connection between light steel and a stone clad masonry wall. This also illustrates that ETICS wall systems can be used in alterations to existing masonry homes not only in new builds.

The Masonry wall, before its preparation with waterproofing


Attachment of the light steel frame directly to the masory wall


Stone cladding over the masonry wall

The saint-gobain light steel frame wall solutions

There are eight layers of materials that create the specialised wall system in Stand 47. Each layer performs a key function such as to improve air quality, to provide structural rigidity, fire proofing and retardation, acoustic isolation, and highly effective thermal insulation. It would be interesting to see if someone new to the project would be able to tell that Stand 47 is not built completely out of bricks and mortar. The quality and finish of the external wall system from Saint-Gobain Weber called ETICS, is not only visually comparable, but offers greater efficiency and energy performance than normal masonry walls. 

While most of us know what a brick looks like, the system that makes up the sandwich of specialised Saint-Gobain materials is still a mystery to most of us. In order to clarify how the system works and what each material does, here is a typical section through a light steel frame wall similar to those in Stand 47, from the inside (on the left) to the outside (on the right).


This is a typical section and not necessarily specific to Stand 47. It has been used to illustrate the principle of how the layers work and fit together.

From inside to outside:

  • Gyproc Activ’Air – purifies the air, high fire protection classification & resistant to everyday knocks and scratches. It improves indoor air quality by permanently reducing VOC’s and other pollutants and achieves this by absorbing, capturing and converting VOC’s into inert compounds where they will remain within the gypsum board for up to 50 years. Gyproc Activ’Air FireStop has glass fibres and unexfoliated vermiculite included in the gypsum core which enables superior performance from a fire perspective when compared to standard and other plasterboard. 
  • Isover Cavitybatt – is a self-supporting non-combustible (SANS 10177-5) glasswool insulation. It is glass tissue faced and offers effective thermal insulation with a k-value (thermal conductivity) of 0.038 W/mK.  With a density of 14kg/m3, it offers efficient sound insulation when used within the cavity of GypWall systems – based on various test results and available data.
  • Ecran Integra membrane – a climatic and wind-tight sheathing, underlay and sarking membrane made of polypropelene that protects the structure from cooling and dampness
  • Fibre cement sheath wall – for structural support
  • SAGEX EPS – Expanded polystyrene board that is CFC free, recyclable, flame retardant, durable & resistant to mould decay, excellent thermal insulation properties compared to masonry
  • Weber Base Coat & Weber.therm mesh – a cement-based, fibre-reinforced base plaster that is used in conjunction with Weber Glass Fibre Mesh as a preparatory finish for the final render
  • Polymeric coating – High performance, anti-carbonation coatings to increase durability an improve façade and thermal insulation

Attaching the fibre cement sheath wall and Sagex EPS to the steel frame


Internal walls with Gyproc Activ’ Air Rhinoboard


View of an External wall ETICS walls withWebber basecoat

Further information about :
the etics wall system  here
gyproc activ’ air here
the heavy and light materials here or here
light steel construction here

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Introducing our solar electricity supplier

We are pleased to introduce our solar electricity supplier, Ample Power, who is supplying Stand 47 with the Solar Photo Voltaic installation. Ample Power is a South African based EPC (Engineering, Procurement and Construction) company specialising in Alternative Power, Renewable Power and Energy Management countrywide. 

They consult, design, supply, install and maintain turnkey systems for all sectors (i.e. residential, commercial, agricultural, hospitality and industrial) with a wide range of quality energy generation products and tailored solutions. These are designed to reduce electricity costs, enable energy independence and provide backup in the event of power failures.  All our products have comprehensive manufacturer warranties and comply with international quality standards.

James Siedle, CEO of Ample Power, represents a company that strives to be a positive contributor of sustainable growth in the industry, one that partners with like-minded organisations. Customer satisfaction is core to their business values, attitude and philosophy.
For more information visit their website: or email:

Rooted to context

The setting at Monaghan has provided the source of inspiration for many of the design decisions of the project, as it should. From views that are framed inside the various rooms in the house, to its careful positioning on site to maximise prospect and refuge, the house is a product of its context. 
High-tech building technologies available from Saint-Gobain, merge with traditional building materials like stone, masonry, and timber to illustrate that not only are alternative construction methods available for residential new builds, but they can work also work together elegantly. 
In addition, as mentioned in our recent post on well-being, the house embraces the qualities of life surrounding it; the natural rural setting, the line of trees running parallel to it, the veld grasses, the natural palette as it changes with the seasons, the colours in the natural materials like the ochres in the stone and the warm hues of the timber, as well as the clean air quality that has been regulated by the Activ’ Air board in the walls. Underlying the design of stand 47 is a careful consideration of all these aspects, and the result is a house that is rooted to its context and appears to have always been here.

Further reading…
well-being in a home
saint-gobain technologies

How Stand 47 can provide a sense of well-being

A large deal of focus is placed on ‘green design’, trying to create sustainable futures. But what we are seeing is a shift in thinking from ‘green’ to ‘healthy’ buildings. Researchers are finding links between the built environment and the incidences of lifestyle illnesses like obesity and diabetes as well as side effects of VOCs and chemicals used in paints, furniture and building materials. Most people spend almost all day inside a building at work, for recreation or at home, so this becomes an particularly important question: How much do buildings affect our well-being, and could some of their materials or systems be harming us rather than protecting us?

In the ‘healthy building’ scenario, homes improve their inhabitants’ sense of well-being, health and vitality.  If we take a look at Stand 47, we see a few of the ideals put forward by HealthBegins, including an environment which inspires a sense of calm and relaxation, and also an active lifestyle which promotes long-term health. In Monaghan Farm, a strong connection to abundant natural elements provides not only the biophilic qualities that have been shown to improve well-being, but also the landscape that inspires an active life.

Other actions taken at Stand47 include the choices in material use. Combining natural materials like stone and timber, with more industrial materials like steel and Saint-Gobain technologies (which have high health standards: e.g. the ETICS drywall system incorporating Activ’ Air that actively traps and converts VOC’s into inert compounds). Views toward the landscape, through clerestory windows, corner windows, and direct access to a herb garden via the kitchen window have been incorporated to enhance the connection to nature. 

Further reading…
activ’ air
etics walls
forget green: healthy building is the next big thing

A unison of materials in Stand 47

One of the strongest human urges is to ground ourselves in a place that can protect and nurture us; a place of refuge and prospect, a home. Over centuries humans have sheltered themselves from the elements, utilising the landscape to offer protection. Evolving from shelters to high-tech buildings, a house provides us rich tactile materials, a connection to the landscape were we can see, but not be seen, and forms and spaces that provide wherein we can find refuge and relax. These intangible qualities are often subconscious, but they emphasise an important aspect; that buildings that are rooted to the ground and emerged from its moulded forms offer a very strong sense of place and connection to the landscape. A sense of freeness develops from the lack of boundaries between buildings and their immediate landscape.

Merging materials + innovation

At Stand 47 we have the rare opportunity to create a home that has the benefit of a very strong and immediate connection to the magnificent landscape of Monaghan Farm and tackle all the inherent and intangible qualities already discussed that are embedded in a home. At the same time we need to create a home that can provide for the lifestyles of contemporary society. A home that not only accommodates for the demands of modern life but answers these with state-of-the-art construction materials and methods in an efficient and innovative way.

Site informing materials, materials informing design

Certainly the views to the trees and the vistas beyond informed the choice of materials, but so did the position of the stand in relation to other properties, and the concept of efficiency and innovation. Together these informed the choices that generated the design.

Views, were incorporated into the the design by framing a part of the landscape like a painting within glazed sections (for example, the clerestory and the corner window in the living room). The contrast between enclosure and vastness emphasises the uniqueness of the site.

The position of the stand, affected the orientation, the views and also its level. Two sides have properties with affect the sense of refuge and therefore the building is sunk to improve its prospect. In doing so, stone retaining walls begin to carve out the spaces where the building is anchored to the ground and lead into the structure terminating in the most important communal space, the living room.

Efficiency and innovation were articulated through the use of quality building materials and methods provided by Saint-Gobain. The choice to use a light-steel frame over a raft foundation with drywalls created the opportunity to demonstrate that the traditional ‘heavy’ materials (stone and masonry) can be used in unison with ‘light’ steel and timber in very effective ways when considered from the start of the design phase. It also demonstrated that light steel was not only a viable option but a more efficient alternative. The use of Rhino Wood window frames also demonstrates the innovative use of materials while adding to the tactile qualities that contrast timber and steel with each other. Above all, these materials have high energy efficiency ratings and improve the health of internal areas considerably, while creating an elegant design solution.

For further reading…
light steel + heavy stone
step 2 – the design process