Parktown Renovation Renovating a heritage house is a delicate procedure. How do you honour its heritage, preserve its historical features and, at the same time, make it livable? The owners of this small Herbert Baker house in Parktown West in Johannesburg, described by the Heritage Trust as the ‘perfect cottage’, wished to transform it from what was essentially a one-person house into a family home for them and their two children, while meticulously preserving and restoring its original features. WHAT THEY DID 1. An addition to a heritage house is an opportunity to create a narrative or a dialogue with the building’s past. The main addition to the original building is a cantilevered glass box that seems to float above the courtyard on a vertical garden. Not only does the addition of the glass box respect the existing structure in its scale, but it also provides an interpretation of it by allowing the owners to look back at the house in ways that were impossible before. 2. Working within a small space with no opportunity to extend rooms without compromising the proportions of the house, as architect Nabeel Essa of Office 24-7 put it, inspired ‘a kind of European or Asian style needed to use space cleverly’. One example of this is the spiral staircase leading from the dressing-room area to the children’s bedrooms above. While this example has a modern look and feel, it’s quite a timeless design, suited to modern and heritage spaces. And best of all, it uses a minute amount of floor space. Likewise, the room divider/headboard was a way of respecting the original room while still connecting it to the suite and the children’s pyjama lounge up the stairs.
This article was originally featured in the July 2014 issue of House and Leisure.