The “Concrete House” in Johannesburg is a testament to the strength of a concept and its seamless execution — where the architecture, interiors, and technology all work together harmoniously to translate a vision.
The house is perched on a steep hillside — the site of the building the basis of the architectural concept, guiding the creation of the spaces and the look of the interiors.
“It is firmly rooted to the hillside through impressive engineering, while also protruding out as if it were shaped and morphed over time,” says Nico van der Meulen, of Nico van der Meulen Architects, the firm behind this logistically challenging project.
M Square Lifestyle’s use of timber, marble, and mild steel elements soften the concrete, and provides a natural but polished complement to the surface, prompting technological solutions that were just as sophisticated.
From the point of entry to the contemporary spaces beyond, the tech had to complement the design, so BNC Technology conceived a comprehensive plan that included a home cinema solution, audio and video distribution, networking throughout, lighting control, an intercom system, window blind integration, fire detection, security system (alarm and CCTV), and gate and garage control.
Upon arrival, guests are greeted by four garage doors — four-ton cast-in-situ concrete that mimic the shape of the stone and the hillside — that are opened and closed using motors via a Control4 system, which also operates the skylight on the lower level (added for extra ventilation and light).
Inside, the open-plan style of living and interconnectedness of spaces are important — the views of Johannesburg from the expansive living level is central to the experience.
Lighting is key, and the sleek design of this system, with Lutron as the foundation, has Control4 forming the interface for mobile devices, touchpanels and on-screen displays on the TVs, with motion sensors for bathrooms and rooms usually unoccupied.
Likewise, the custom Siedle intercom complements the modern design, which incorporates a built-in mailbox, motion sensor for the LED light, keypad for guest and staff access and phone capabilities, among other features.
From an entertainment standpoint, the house is a dream — the spaces and technological systems together make the house an ideal space for socializing (music in the swimming pool was a winner for this project as it complemented the large entertainment area with lots of high-definition video and audio), or not socializing (a full solution was provided for the seven-seat home theater, and there are no less than 14 televisions in the house receiving a variety of content such as Netflix, Tidal and other high-quality streaming services available through Apple TV and Control4).
BNC’s task was not without its challenges however. As the home is made predominately of concrete and so large, the installation of the Wi-Fi and its distribution was a challenge and BNC had to add multiple points throughout the home as well as intelligent QOS/bandwidth management for the various subsystems.
But through these pioneering solutions, the home is an example of how the synergy of architecture and life-enhancing technology can create an energy-efficient, convenient and comfortable living space.
- Control4 automation
- Lutron lighting control
- Siedle intercom
- JVC projector
- Screen Innovations screen
- Jamo, M&K speakers
- Parasound electronics
- Apple TV video source