Privacy and Connection in One: the Cal Home by Nico van der Muelen Architects

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This ultra-sleek modern Johannesburg home by Nico van der Muelen Architects is the result of a brief detailing the request for a large house that would allow for separate accommodations for the client’s three adult children. Its location on a private estate enabled the home to be open to the street, with a koi pond linked by glass to the guest wing (a son’s suite) and the main part of the house. Two-story glass windows are designed for illumination, but carefully shaded so that only winter sunlight can enter the living areas. In addition to sleeping quarters, the son’s suite contains a gym, additional guest areas, and a double garage. The other two children have their suites facing north; each suite has balconies on both sides of the building.

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Employing clever lighting (note the blue neon!) and lots of glass in stairwells and corridors, this home feels subtly “light” even at night. Indoor/outdoor living is easy with sliding and folding doors to the lanai and bar, as well as breakfast room and family room — or, alternatively, to the pool and internal atrium area. Wide-open plans are supported by beams rather than corner columns; decor is neutral, but there’s nothing bland about it: witness the modern “pillar” light next to the fireplace/entertainment center, the lighted steps and coffered ceilings in various rooms, and a round bathtub set in a bed of river stone. With an intriguing fragmented façade and connections that seem to float in the air, the Cal house provides both visual interest and clearly delineated spaces: privacy when necessary, connection when desired.

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