House Edwards

House Edwards
Lower La Lucia
Completed 2007 - 5 Million

Connoisseurs of the good life agree that a home on the Atlantic Seaboard is the pinnacle of domestic achievement. Travel east-bound for an estimated 1 300 kilometres and this sentiment still holds true. While Durban's natural wonders are stupefying, its man-made attempts are at times better left to the imagination. That is, until an intrepid pair of Umhlanga Rocks homeowners approached property and interior design solutions firm, Union 3. Somehow, 'renovation' is just too tame a term to describe the radical redesign and implementation of custom features and bespoke furnishings. Over 12 months, the semi-detached, rather oldfashioned Durban home underwent a remarkable transformation to the cool tune of seven million big ones. The ethos of modular living that is so evident throughout the house was pioneered by such greats as Frank Lloyd Wright and Mies van der Rohe and when text-book toting, Le Corbusier-quoting savants muse about houses being machines for living in, a property like this is almost certainly what they imagine. What's truly exciting about this house is not the strikingly pretty face that so confidently answers to its modernist ideals, but rather the seamless integration of interior and exterior spaces and of course, minimal environmental impact.

Geoff Thompson and Clifton Smithers head up Union 3's design team and it's their form followingfunctional approach to design and exhaustive attention to detail that is garnering the firm a favourable reputation in Durban's booming property and design-savvy inner circles. 'We're not decorators,' Geoff asserts. 'We are solutions-driven designers.' The interior and decor serves the architecture as opposed to dressing up a shell. This also means a house that's kitted in all once-off custom pieces. Very nearly anyway. Upon entry, an elegant yet striking glass pane gives way to reveal a casually restrained interior, punctuated by the play of light that skims and tumbles through slatted screens of Iroco that wrap the house.

The flow from the outside inward is unforced as colour and texture echo the natural surrounds. 'We used textured paint on the perimeter and interior feature-walls which make the structures less obvious,' Clifton explains. Zonal-flow is also assisted by varying the grade of honing and filling on the Travertine floor-tiles in addition to creating warmth and texture. The ground storey is the seat of all-year outdoor living with its bespoke tapered kiaat bar, modular lounge and dining areas, and ocean-view kitchen. During the few months that Durban's weather is less exemplary, the living area boasts a cleanburning, low-heat fireplace designed by Phillipe Starcke for Ecosmart.