Alterations and Additions to an existing house

    Client: Private
    Architects: John Rushmere and Architects in collaboration with The Workplace Architects.
    Engineers: Elwandle Projects
    Contractors: Extended Contractors
    Location of Project: Theesecombe, Port Elizabeth

Theesecombe, Port Elizabeth


Originally conceived as an alteration and addition to an existing 3-storey residence in Theesecombe, Port Elizabeth, the house’s final manifestation is that of two new buildings strategically positioned to form a larger residence together with additional more usable outdoor spaces. The site is steeply sloped and challenging, but with attractive natural surroundings and sea views south wards providing strong informers for the design team to respond to.

The works are described in two parts:

Alterations and additions to existing building.

The brief to the design team asked for a pool/ entertainment room and related amenities (including a kitchenette, bathroom, sauna and storage), a new master bedroom on the upper floor, and a new private office for the client. The architect identified further opportunities in and around the existing residence to tie into a greater overall end-vision. The intention to maximise desirable views from the existing bedrooms and living areas, positioning the new building with its back to prevailing south easterly and south westerly winds, as well as bringing in natural light and eliminating unnecessary spatial thresholds were the driving factors in the design of the additions. The final manifestation maximises specific site conditions and increases the living and entertaining opportunities of the existing house. The new garage is situated on the south side of the house so as to not block northern sun (already minimised, particularly in winter, by large trees), with its roof becoming a deck extension to the current living area. This results in an entertainment space with sea views directly off the existing kitchen and dining zone. In separating the new garage from the existing building, an entrance void is created at the lower level. Entering the house (and moving through it) is expressed more vertically through the levels and as a series of selected views and axes.
New pool edge building.

The new pool edge building is strategically situated, working with the existing building to create a new enclosed ‘courtyard’ for the previously installed pool. The building is linear, running along a north/south axis and turning its back to the south-west. This allows opportunity to expose the northern and eastern façades to the rising sun, creating a warm master bedroom on first floor and pool-room on ground floor, while shielding the pool and surrounding space from the harsh winds from the south, south west and south east and direct western sun. The steep fall of the land has allowed the Pool Room to be a tall thin element that creates a better edge to the existing pool and allows for a basement study under the Pool Room. This basement is realised in the nature of a partially submerged space and is vaulted in brickwork, opening on its end to a small sunken courtyard to the north, serving to bring natural light into the subterranean space and allowing relief from the enclosed nature of the vault.

Expressively, the additions are finished in similar brick masonry to the existing building, so as to create a ‘village of buildings’ with a common material aesthetic. The individual buildings, however, differ in detail and resolution. A flush jointed red brick aesthetic is kept to, and a strong mass tectonic is retained. Moments of lightness in the form of an extended sheeted roof and the steel and glass bridge (linking pool edge building and existing house) are set off against the mass, creating a dynamic aesthetic with varied focal points, tied together by a common, overt mass grounding.

It is envisioned that the completion of this project will create an interesting, varied and attractive environment that increase the client’s experience of their great site and makes places that are exciting to use and changes as the varied micro climate of the site changes.