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Gabriel`s Garden by Kate Otten Architects: Connecting with the Past through Nature

Gabriel`s Garden by Kate Otten Architects shape

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Edgy, modern and complex but still managing to reflect history in an unique way and bring the “old” into this century. The refined touches of the architect regard usage of light reflections and worm timber that attests the apprehension of the natural environment created around the past foundation.

Designed as a continuation of the landscape, complementing it and reflecting its beauty. And the relationship settled between the two is vice-verse. The new insertion is placed so it would not harm the existing historical ensemble in any way.The 2 volume pavilion comes as a reaction to the surroundings and emphasizes the existing site.
A project we came across these days considered worthy for you to acknowledge and reflect upon it, but we reckon that a better understanding of the ensemble can be extracted from the description done by the creators themselves and we would like you to share with us your point of view and impressions.

Text from Kate Otten Architects:

“Gabriel’s Garden Pavilion, Johannesburg, South Africa (Home Office Pavilions in Historic Garden of a National Monument)
The site for this home office is the lowest garden platform of the Historic Terraced Garden of a 1930′s house – now a National Monument – on the Westcliff ridge in, Johannesburg.

The building is conceptualized as a landscape; as part of the language of the garden. Garden and building interchange, reflecting and framing each other.
The pavilion is made of two rectilinear forms that nestle against, but do not touch, two powerful ramped stone retaining walls. These existing garden walls became the edges of the building – thus starts the blurring of boundaries between inside and out; between garden and building.The new building, while quite large, does not impact on the existing historic house or its setting. It is carefully sited and the height specifically designed such that, even from the lowest terrace, the full view of the existing historic house and the garden terraces is maintained.The two pavilion buildings are heavy ‘boxes’ with 3 sides of masonry and one of floor to ceiling glass that opens to the garden. The fifth facades, the roofs, are shallow ponds that reflect the trees and sky and are visible from upper terraces. Excess rainwater from these ponds is collected in tanks and used to water the garden.

The gap between the ‘boxes’ and the Existing Stone Retaining Walls is taken up by a light timber pergola-type structure on the one side and a narrow sloping glass roof on the other. The trapezoidal shape between the two ‘boxes’ is again timber moving into the garden to become a pergola – the irregular rhythm of the structure imitates an avenue of trees.

The building is naturally cooled in summer, with large overhangs protecting the glazed facades and large opening sections allow for ventilation. The large windows also reduce the need for artificial lighting. In winter the sun penetrates deeper into the spaces. Additional heating comes from gas heaters.During the day, the glass façade reflects the garden; at night or when open, it allows an un-hindered view through the building revealing the old stone walls beyond. From inside, the glass allows the garden to be the boundary of the space.”

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Architects Kate Otten Architects
Location :80 Westcliff Drive, Westcliff, Johannesburg, South Africa
Type of project: Home office / pavilion
Structural engineers: Rosnovanu & Associates
Project architect: Kate Otten
Design team :Kate Otten Brendan Hart
Client: Private Client
Tender date :2006
Start on site date :2007
Contract duration: 8 Months
Gross internal floor area: 235.86m²
Total cost: R2, 000,000
Quantity surveyor :Quanco Quantity Surveyors’
Photo courtesy: Kate Otten aRCHITECTS

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