Living in harmony with nature calls for a small environmental footprint, and a great example of this philosophy can be found in the House Mouton, an earthy family home that makes sustainable design a major focus.
Designed by Pretoria-based Earthworld Architects, House Mouton is a low-profile structure that minimizes both its visual and environmental impact on the rural landscape. Mostly natural materials were used to construct the home, which also features a green roof, highly efficient insulation, and intensive water harvesting systems.
Located just outside Pretoria, the 705-square-meter House Mouton is set on a 1-hectare bushveld plot near the ecologically sensitive Roodeplaat Nature Reserve. To minimize its appearance on the landscape, the dwelling is split into four separate but linked single-story pavilions—for living, sleeping, services, and guests—carefully set between existing acacia thorn trees. The areas in between the pavilions have been turned into outdoor courtyards.
The shed-like pavilions are built from steel and supported by masonry walls. Large infill timber windows frame views of the landscape. The interior is minimally finished and features an earthy color palette that features natural materials. To keep energy costs to a minimum, the architects installed effectively shaded energy-efficient glazing, solar hot water heating systems, green roofs, and water harvesting systems that feed collected water into the irrigation system and emerging water supply system.
“The house consists of three conceptual elements: the roof and ceiling emulates the horizontal plane of the acacia thorn trees providing shade for its inhabitants; the two ‘anthill like’ fireplaces are beacons in the landscape; and thirdly, the jagged edge stonewall elements emulates the klip kopje of the landscapes,” write the architects. “Finally, the building design in essence attempts to be sensitive to the pristine bushveld landscape, and at the same to create a warm home for it its dwellers without opulence.”