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Sumit Singhal
Sumit Singhal
Sumit Singhal loves modern architecture. He comes from a family of builders who have built more than 20 projects in the last ten years near Delhi in India. He has recently started writing about the architectural projects that catch his imagination.

Brian Road in Johannesburg, South Africa by Nico van der Meulen Architects (designed using AutoCAD and Revit)

February 15th, 2012 by Sumit Singhal

Article source: Nico van der Meulen Architects

Nico van der Meulen Architects transformed what was originally a 1970s house into a home ideal for the 21st century.  The architectural firm created an atrium and a moat around the hall and dining room, with a curtain of water falling past a cut-out in the atrium wall.  The end result is a beautiful breakfast garden to the east of the kitchen, overlooking the moat and water feature.  The family and dining room opens onto a spacious 13 m x 6 m lanai through frame less folding doors – an excellent idea as this doubles the space available for entertaining during the long South African summers.  The interior walls were removed to create a spectacular double volume living area and to form a more seamless floor plan.  The roof over the lanai is suspended from a two-storey-high beam traversing the pool.  The outcome is a contemporary home that is open-plan with north-facing layout ideal for family living and entertaining.

Image Courtesy Nico and Rudolph van der

  • Architects: Nico van der Meulen Architects
  • Project: Brian Road
  • Location: Johannesburg, South Africa
  • Software used: Autodesk Autocad and Autodesk Revit Architecture

Image Courtesy Nico and Rudolph van der

M Square Lifestyle Necessities created interiors reflecting opulence and the latest in interior décor trends.  These van be found in aspects such as the spherical copper lamp shades designed by one of the world’s leading designers. Tom Dixon.  The copper mirror balls were artistically used to create a dynamic layer in the double volume space while the height variations of the lights attract intimacy, making the space more relaxed.  The astute placement of furniture divides spaces into pockets of activity – an excellent touch as this promotes an interactive family life.  A luxurious color palette was applied throughout to compliment the modern theme of the interiors, including rich rust and copper hues.  The end result is a look that is open, warm, modern and infinitely inviting.  M Square Lifestyle Necessities imports furniture from leading manufactures in Europe using award-winning designers.

Image Courtesy Nico and Rudolph van der

Bold, ultra-modern and fit for a contemporary South African lifestyle – no one would ever guess that this house was originally built in the 1970s.  Architect Nico van der Meulen explains the reason behind taking up the impressive renovation project: “The house is situated in a very good area, but was very dated, thus an ideal candidate for a make-over.”  One of the main objectives was to also build a home that accommodates the typical South African indoor and outdoor lifestyle.

Image Courtesy Nico and Rudolph van der

The transformation into the 21st century was achieved by removing the interior walls to create a spectacular double volume living area.  This also helped to get rid of the chaotic floor plan with small boxes, all on different levels.  Nico goes on to explain: “There used to be a screen wall around the kitchen, and we decided to create an atrium and a moat around the hall and dining room, with a curtain of water falling past a cut-out in the atrium wall.  This created a beautiful breakfast garden to the east of the kitchen that overlooks the moat and water feature.”  The water feature adds an interesting visual element and is visible from almost everywhere in the living and kitchen areas.  The kitchen takes centre stage as the hub of the house where the open space invites people to gather around.

Image Courtesy Nico and Rudolph van der

The symbiotic relationship between the exterior and interiors is seen in bedrooms and bathrooms that open onto balconies and atriums, and in the case of the guest bedroom, directly onto the garden.  The original structure was north-facing, and due to the established gardens surrounding the site it was easy to create the privacy needed for the main bedroom and bathroom to seamlessly flow outside.  The use of frameless doors also helped to extend the interiors into the garden.

Image Courtesy Nico and Rudolph van der

In terms of some of the other finishes used to enhance the architecture, Phia van der Meulen of M Square Lifestyle Necessities explains: “Usually areas underneath stairs are redundant – a functional, popular spot was created by placing a bar in the cavity.”  Phia also explains that the fireplace serves as a centerpiece and another focal point.  It also acts as a barrier that subtly divides distinct areas.  The interior design was done subtly in order to underscore the architecture using more or less classical materials that included travertine, rusted steel, glass and wood.

Image Courtesy Nico and Rudolph van der

The end result is a contemporary home with an open-plan and north-facing layout that is more than ideal for family living and entertaining.  The ingenuity of the architecture lies in its natural flowing effect but without making the house too overpowering and too big for easy maintenance.

“My two sons and daughter-in-law” joining me at the firm was a definite career highlight, but so is every commission we get to design another building for our stimulating clients,” says architect Nico van der Meulen.

Image Courtesy Nico and Rudolph van der

After studying civil engineering, Nico worked as a project manager and started to design buildings in his spare time.  This then progressed to designing and project managing for clients.

After only four houses the design side of the business took off and eventually Nico wrote his SA Council for Architects’ examination to become registered as an architect.

Image Courtesy Nico and Rudolph van der

During 26 years since he has designed more than 3 000 buildings throughout Africa, many of which have been featured in top magazines all over the world.

One of the highlights of his job comes from the fact that there is never a boring moment.  “New challenges everyday keeps me on my toes and prevents complacency and boredom.”  Nico concludes by adding: “Trying to find new solutions to familiar problems makes for an interesting life, at 60 I’m still working 80 hour weeks because I enjoy it!”

Image Courtesy Nico and Rudolph van der

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Categories: Autocad, Revit, Villa

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