All photos courtesy of Derick De Bruyn
Recently we invited architect and academic Derick De Bruyn to spend a relaxing weekend at Stand 47 with his son. For two years now, he has used the house as an example of light steel construction in his second year architecture studio at the University of Pretoria. We wanted to know what influence the house has had in his design and construction teaching curriculum and why he finds it useful.
He told us that it was particularly useful to visit the house to see how external dry-walling would perform in the harsh Highveld environment, particularly when for so many years there has been a perception in the building industry that it is not possible to build successfully in this manner. Contrary to what he had experienced before, the external walls have not cracked at all under the extreme temperature changes. He believes that these high quality systems will start to be adopted by more and more people as they understand that the lightweight materials used in Stand 47 perform as well as those in traditional homes do and can feel just as [or more] comfortable.
From a teaching perspective Derick finds the house valuable for two reasons. First, it is a true Case Study home – testing and then proving that a home can be built in South Africa using these alternative materials and systems in a more sophisticated way than we have been taught to think or even have seen so far. Second, it provides a real life example for students (and the interested public) to visit and learn from or experience first hand.
There are certain design benefits to these systems which he also appreciates such as the modular design system which makes building more accurate and can allow for innovative detailing. He also says that the technologies performed really well on a hot day, with the home remaining a comfortable temperature at night due to the innovative dual drywall system of internal and external walls.
The spatial comforts of the home did not go unnoticed… he appreciates the atmosphere and ambiance of the house sited in the grasslands of Monaghan Farm with the lane of trees in the background and the views toward the eastern horizon. He also appreciates the spatial qualities of the home within the living areas where for example the reflections from the swimming pool cast onto the ceiling inside in the morning create a delightful atmosphere inside.
In summary, he found the house to live up to the desired comforts of a high quality home with the added benefits of almost entire self sufficiency (solar energy is captured by PV panels and rainwater is harvested) along with high performance building systems. Derick thinks that as more of his students become familiar with these systems and more members of the public experience the comforts of this home themselves, then more such homes will be built. And as this happens, he is very excited to see how the building systems will be interpreted into architectural design solutions that push the limits of the technology even further.