Inspired by case study houses

Stand 47 is inspired by a tradition of Modern Movement case study houses, that have demonstrated how new or alternative ideas for housing can be feasibly made to work. As with case study projects preceding it, Stand 47 tests ideas that are either original, alternative, unconventional or evolved with the aim of delivering a product that works better than before. It doesn’t start from scratch; rather it builds upon some Modern Movement principles, but looks at them with the benefit of retrospect.

Case studies have formed a strong basis in the architectural evolution of the house. During the Modern Movement, the principles for a more efficient and innovative solution for housing, especially en masse, were being explored in various scenarios from as far back as the early 1900’s. With the Industrial Revolution and two World Wars as the back drop, an urgent quest to fulfil a need for better, faster housing was at the forefront of much of the architectural debate, and a way of demonstrating these innovations was through Case Study Houses.

Within this explorative context, emerged a number of key Modern Movement ideas that have shaped and altered the architectural profession and our built environments for the greater part of the last century; but in so doing, generated criticism regarding their manifestation as a-contextual, anti-traditional, anti-urban with a highly formalist aesthetic. 

Despite valid criticism regarding the execution of many Modern Movement projects, there are principles that merit being revisited if they emphasise a more regional or contextual approach. Reimagining these principles has inspired innovation in the design of Stand 47, so that a contemporary application of some of its normative ideas may possibly lead to a useful case study for the South African construction industry and architectural profession.

Some of the normative Modern Movement principles being explored in this Case Study House are:

  • Innovative use of alternative materials and technologies for housing (using Saint-Gobain products)
  • Open plan (free up the interior spaces for maximum use of every square meter)
  • An ordering grid as the base (using a 900mm grid to organise subdivisions and placement of openings)
  • Zoning (creating a clear differentiation between service spaces [South] and living spaces [North] ) 
  • Planes (creating a continuous floor and ceiling plane that captures an adaptable interior)
  • Light, air and space (using glazing and screens to enhance the qualities of natural light in the house)
  • Repetition and Rhythm (exploring the detailing of the screens and elevations)