Architectural marvel disappears into the Waterberg surrounds

Situated in the Waterberg Reserve and virtually invisible, the Frankie Pappas designed 'The House of the Big Arch' is a 3.3 meters wide home that is not only architecturally impressive but blends seamlessly into the surrounding landscape.

Frankie Pappas, an architecture studio based in Johannesburg, was tasked to create a home for the owners that would respect the area it was situated in. This meant that before embarking on the project, Frankie Pappas laser-scanned the entire site and used the resulting 3D 'digital forest' to inform the design.

"This house is designed for a very specific portion of a very specific valley of a very specific nature reserve in a very specific portion of South Africa," explained Frankie Pappas.

"The building is shaped by its surrounds," the collective told Dezeen. "It could exist nowhere else in the world. It is a direct expression of its site."

"Any funky bulges and protrusions in the plan of the building were dictated by where trees allowed us to build," the team wrote in their project description, noting that no trees were demolished during construction.

The resulting home is a long, custom, and seriously skinny home that appears to effortlessly float through the tree canopy. 

All of the main living spaces are arranged linearly within a 3.3-meter-wide section that consists of two timber bridges. These bridges are supported on piers constructed from rough stock brick chosen to resemble the nearby sandstone cliffs.

"The bridge portions of the house are constructed from timber and span between the monolithic brick structures," said the collective.

Resulting in a minimised footprint that allows the fauna and flora to truly shine and inhabit these spaces.

As the house was located an hour-and-a-half drive to the nearest town, the architecture collective decided to make it an off-grid home – not connected to water or electricity networks. Water is collected and filtered on the roof while solar panels provide electricity.

It is safe to say that the finished product is not only a home but a work of art that reflects a marriage between modern technology, sustainable design and the beauty of the Waterberg region.


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