When Elmo Swart Architects added the Wright Conversion on their docket, it must have seemed like a massive undertaking right off the bat – not because grafting a modern unit onto a thatch-roofed South-African house would necessarily prove to be a tall order, but because brainstorming for such a project should involve a respect for the still-standing original place. Also, in the spirit of preserving and setting off a house worthy of national-heritage status, this reverence should be made more or less evident in the appearance of the new building.
To my mind, the architectural work was successful on that front, as the Elmo Swart team expanded the original house without detracting from its natural charm. With their help, the three-bedroom cottage in Durban now boasts a tubular cantilever wing where a new bedroom, two studies, an art gallery and a music lounge latch onto the original structure in a continuous, organic fashion. The slanted screen standing between the old and the new is also made of thatch, while the outer shell, protruding over a parking space, cups the add-on in a steely grey grip.
Lastly, layers of glass cut across the space between these two types of walls – in stead of feeling like partitions, as if sectioning off any length of the jutting offshoot, these provide the Wright house with an modern feel while letting the light flow freely inside and the dweller cast his eyes outside to take in the scenery.