PHOTOS Dook PRODUCTION Annemarie Meintjes WORDS Adele De Lange
This Pretoria East family home strikes the perfect balance between chic city life and laid-back country living.
A boisterous four-legged welcoming party leads the way along a slightly raised timber-decked walkway into the main foyer of the Coetzee residence. Light filters through full-height glass facades to uninterrupted views of an enticing courtyard, sparkling with a reflection pond and a lap pool beyond.
From the outset, Ettienne and Lara Coetzee were drawn to the signature design style of multi-award-winning architectural practice Thomas Gouws Architects & Interiors, and the firm’s trademark touch is clearly visible: The high-tech steel and concrete structure is subtly enveloped by oversized glass facades and hidden skylights that allow the outdoors to flow seamlessly throughout the interior of the house, capturing sunlight and uninterrupted views from the undulating countryside in the distance.
In line with the modernist design ethos “form follows function”, beauty is not without purpose: “The inner courtyard adds a beautiful feature to the house, but first and foremost it fulfils an important purpose, which formed an essential part of the original design concept,” says architect Thomas Gouws. Since the house sits on a slight hill, an ever-present breeze called for a sheltered outdoor space that the family could enjoy all year round.
“We take our design cues from nature, and as such we allow the specific characteristics of each site to guide our design process,” says Thomas. The courtyard layout creates a compact footprint for the house without compromising access to direct northern sunlight to all living spaces. In addition, it conveniently separates the house into two spacious wings, one containing the private bedroom suites and the other the open-plan living area.
The natural beauty of concrete, steel, glass and timber take centre stage inside, combining raw, textured and polished finishes effortlessly to set the tone for a crisp and clean-cut interior style.
At first glance, it’s evident the family enjoys a clutter-free lifestyle, but marrying an ultra-modern minimalist interior style with the demands and realities of a busy family could only be achieved through ingenious design and immaculate planning.
Co-architect Sureen Gouws explains how by focusing on aligning the interiors with the overall design of the house, this was achieved: “By making all the passages extra wide, we were able to include vast amounts of storage space hidden from view behind wall-to-ceiling sliding panels throughout the house.” The elegant lines and smooth finishes of the panels complement the overall high-tech feel.
The living area wing is most certainly every entertainer’s dream – especially when juggling the requirements of a family with teenagers and young adults. Full-height sliding, folding and stackable doors add flexibility to the space, which can be subdivided into multiple entertainment venues.
When asked about her favourite space in the house, Lara confesses, “There’s nothing about this house I don’t love, but what I probably love most of all is finding a peaceful spot in the sun wherever I go!”