There is nothing ordinary looking about the Black House, an award-winning house built in Rynfeld, Benoni.
Rynfield suburb consists of a mixture of both established suburban and agricultural holdings and according to property experts, offers some great value propositions for the homeowner.
It was here that an extraordinary looking family home was built using steel, combined with all the other simple materials of construction, including facebrick, that the architects say was intended to push the boundaries of the materials.
A powerful and sculptural architectural statement
Designed by Drew Architects, steel was primarily chosen for its low maintenance properties and also for its ability to “deliver a crisp, powerful and sculptural architectural statement”. Andrew Payne, the MD of Drew Architects, commented in a YouTube interview for Corobrik that his client’s brief was to “produce a low maintenance, compact kind of farm house”.
Payne says that their execution of the client’s brief was, “something sculptural to push the boundaries by using simple, humble materials but pushing them hard. The result was still a warm home”.
Black face bricks, joined with light coloured mortar were chosen to add texture, pattern and rhythm to the house. In addition to steel, off-shutter concrete and aluminium slats complemented the theme.
The darker colours of steel and brick were offset by aluminum slats and the blonde, rich, deep timber flooring and ceilings indoors. The house was not painted in line with the client’s low maintenance brief.
The primary steel portal frame was made from 254 x 146mm steel I-beams with bolted connections. The geometry of the primary steel frame is rotated by 77 degrees, which not only results in a unique and interesting architectural form, but also enables effective sun shading on one side and permits beautiful, soft natural light from the other side.
According to the South African Institute for Steel Construction (SAISC) whose judges assessed the project as an entry into their prestigious annual Steel Awards, the design demonstrates how the creative application of the structural system offers a very successful passive solar radiation solution and striking architectural gesture.
The framing of the black facebrick by steel and I-beams further reinforces the crisp and sculptural theme.
The role of steel
The structural steelwork was by Viva Engineering. Payne explains: “I was aware of Viva Engineering, I know the owner is a detail and quality orientated individual so wanted to give them an opportunity. All Viva staff we met were friendly, quick to respond, positive and solution-orientated. After explaining the nature of our architectural project, the Viva team fabricated the entire steel frame in a matter of weeks.”
“We were very impressed with how quickly they were able to deliver. The steel arrived on site on time and on inspection was fabricated to a very high standard. After a few initial teething issues on site, erection found its rhythm and came together beautifully – we are very happy. I would use Viva Engineering again.”
In addition to the structural steelwork, the roofing and cladding also help to steal the show. The overall effect is very pleasing on the eye, while also being highly functional.
According to Safintra’s National Specifications Manager, Cornè Nel, his company was appointed to form and supply both the roofing, cladding and flashing.
“Roll-forming was done on site for approximately 700m2 of product using the architect-specified Colorplus® AZ150 0.53mm G 550 in Thunderstorm Grey from Safal Steel, formed into our exclusive Newlok™ Profile,” he explains.
The roofing and cladding was undertaken by Monro Roof Sheeting, according to David Munro, the owner of the company.
High honours at annual Steel Awards
It was, however, at the annual Steel Awards of the SAISC that the project really shined. The project scored top spots in the Residential and the Best Project in Gauteng categories of judging.
“The 2022 awards very effectively highlighted how the local steel sector has triumphed over adversity in the past two years; as well as showcasing a typically South African ‘can-do’ approach to the challenges endured during this time,” commented SAISC CEO, Amanuel Gebremeskel.
“The annual SAISC Steel Awards provide an opportunity for stakeholders across the industry, including engineers, fabricators, designers, architects, processors, merchants and fabricators, to present their work and be honoured for their outstanding achievements. The evening, known in the steel sector as the ‘Oscars of the steel industry’, was an elegant gala-style gathering with a ‘red carpet’ feel and a growth-related theme this year of Green Shoots.”
The 2022 Steel Awards, based on 2021 projects, introduced more categories, and consequently an increased number of winning entries, than in recent years. SAISC Marketing and Management Consultant, Denise Sherman explains: “The reasoning behind this was to honour a broader spectrum of Awards entrants. We wanted to cater to all possible role-players within the steel construction industry’s varied landscape.”