kati kati

melville, johannesburg

lulu kati kati, Swahili for 'pearl in the middle’, is a jewel of a house at the end of the high street of Melville.  Built on a brownfield, urban site, the house exploits the natural features of the site – a steep north-facing slope, large rocky ridge and beautiful indigenous dombeya tree as well as views north to the koppie beyond.

The house is a three storey, lightweight timber framed rectangle that slips between the exposed rock face and the Dombeya tree.  The framing of the timber fragments the view to the outside, exposing, focusing and reflecting the tree and the koppie in a variety of ways.  Building and landscape are integrated and intertwined – lines are blurred between natural and built.  Bursts of colour in the building reflect the same in the surrounding landscape – the kitchen reflects the pink Kapok & Bougainvillea flowers, the bathroom the blue Plumbago.  Views change with the changing nature and colour of the seasons and cycles of a day - the experience of these changes is heightened by the building. Sunlight and shadow during the day, distant lights at night, veld fires in winter and brilliant green in summer.

To live here is to feel alive; in walking distance yet far from the madding crowd.