House Steffens in Namibia Jaco Wasserfall Architects is a Brutalist Composition of Concrete and Steel with an 8m Cantilever

Project Details
  • Architects: Jaco Wasserfall Architects
  • Year : 2021
  • Photographs :Leo Visser, Kris Barnard
  • Main Contractor : MAT Construction
  • Clients : Mr & Mrs Steffens
  • City : Windhoek
  • Country : Namibia

The Steffens residence is located on a high-lying site in the Finkenstein Estate to the east of Windhoek where privacy, open space, protection of fauna and flora, and a peaceful atmosphere are the primary objectives. Individual properties here are about 1ha in size, but its fenced-in development area is restricted to a maximum of 2,500sqm to encourage the free-roaming of the game – springbok, kudu, eland, warthog, etc. – throughout the estate.

Designed to ‘tread lightly on the natural landscape, the Steffens residence is geometrically composed of three rectangular concrete boxes. The upper two are cantilevered at 90 degrees to each other in order to minimize the building footprint and maximize uninterrupted panoramic views of the surrounding landscape to the west and south against the backdrop of the Auas Mountains to the south.

The 8m cantilever of the ground floor wing is supported on two V-shaped steel columns. Carried on three points and employing the west facade wall as a cantilever beam, the first-floor box was designed for diagonal deflection and cast with a deflection allowance of 10mm. By so doing, the views from the ground-floor patio are uninterrupted and the cantilevered first-floor master bedroom boasts a spectacular framed view of the majestic Auas Mountains to the south.

Open plan in- and outdoor living areas are connected seamlessly by means of large glass sliding doors on the ground floor. The pool deck features an automated sliding cover that, when open, serves as a sun-lounging deck supported on a V-shaped steel structure. The natural landscaping around the house is expected to be re-establish after the first rainy season. Architecturally speaking, a brutalist design approach showcases bare building materials and structural elements over decoration, aspiring to create a simple, honest, and functional building with overall visual coherence.

A limited palette of finishes is employed both internally and externally. Timber-grained off-shutter concrete walls are set off against ventilated steel paneling which in time will rust to a beautiful red-hued finish. Other concrete features include a cantilevered concrete staircase, white-aggregate polished concrete floors used throughout the house, and polished concrete vanity slabs. Rusted mesh balustrades as used throughout. A grid-linked photo-voltaic system generates electricity for its own use, while north-facing roof windows allow sunlight to penetrate the south/view-oriented bedrooms in winter.

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