Parktown West Renovation
Although the owners were charmed by the romantic nooks in the somewhat overgrown garden and the old-world feel of the house in Parktown West, Johannesburg, with its beautiful pressed ceilings and Oregon pine floors, it was the view that blew them away. Having been built below street level, they instantly realised the potential for a double-storey renovation that would make the most of a tree-filled vista, stealing views of the Hillbrow and Sentech towers as well as the city’s former industrial-gothic gas works. The vision they had was of a contemporary structure that would celebrate the iconic skyline and in some way remain sensitive to
the heritage nature of the original home.
WHAT THEY DID:
1. Constructed from rocks haphazardly piled on top of each other, the original terraces were precariously narrow as were the stairs that lead down to the garden. Everything appeared on the verge of collapse. Making use of rubble from the home’s demolition zones, the number of terraces was reduced by half resulting in wider lawned platforms and an indigenous garden. Rock salvaged from the exterior excavations was used to clad the retaining walls and steps, which serves to soften the contemporary structure while retaining the distinctive Westcliff and Parktown vernacular.
2. The original home had raised Oregon pine floorboards under which no foundation slab existed. As the property sloped sharply to the south and east an attempt to level the structure resulted in some walls built directly onto the natural rock and the remainder supported by thin brick foundations. In order to throw a foundation which would support the parquet flooring that they intended laying, the voids beneath the home were filled using rubble retrieved from demolishing the walls. Great care was taken to protect the Simon Stone mosaic floor.
This article was originally featured in the July 2013 issue of House and Leisure.