House McKay

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Completion Year: 
Client: Private 
Construction Budget: USD24,918 
Address: Tarlton 
City: Johannesburg 

The significance of House Mckay lies in the fact that it combines boundary wall typologies and house typologies. Traditionally the two are separate elements and the resultant form of this building is a continuous wall that goes on an organic journey, enclosing various indoor and outdoor spaces along the way. The house is therefore secure, but interacts with the landscape and the public realm in very interesting ways. House Mckay was built entirely by its owner, who is a tool and dye-maker, and thus understands design and construction very well. This is the first piece of stand-alone architecture created by Local Studio.

The security challenges of the site were taken fairly seriously and used as a generator of form. Once it was decided what the building would be made out of, the materials were used as a major influence on the design process. Materials were almost entirely sourced within a 5km radius of the site, particularly clay stock brick, which Local Studio wanted to express in a special way. Because the client is a toolmaker, and works within 2mm of precision, the building was built very well.

Thomas Chapman went to high school with the client, and discussions to collaborate on this project began when Thomas was an architecture student. The client financed the project entirely with cash, which meant that it took longer than the Burj Khalifa to build. This created challenges from a project management point of view. Despite the building’s unusual form, it sits well in the landscape and responds well to climate, remaining cool in summer and warm in winter. The client and his family have recently had a child and are very happy in their house. With the design being fairly rigid, alterations and additions may prove difficult, should the family grow further.