Midlands Pavilion


Location: Midlands, KZN

Completed: 2020

Size: 383 m2


The brief

The architect was briefed to design a decentralised family home, in the form of “Pavilions”

The concept being based around the “Traditional Zulu Umuzi” where various components of the Umuzi are self-contained and used for different and specific needs. The central point of the Umuzi is a “kitchen rondavel” and various “rondavels” include sleeping quarters and entertainment units.

The final product delivered on the brief establishing one main pavilion for our family cooking and entertainment.  Since my kids are grown, they need their own independent space to live and entertain their friends without interfering with other spaces of the home. 

When hosting guests, we find it more convenient to also allow them space to be by themselves away from everyone else, hence giving them freedom to come and go as they please.

I also enjoy the privacy of my own space. I can stay in myself-contained unit without having to worry about other spaces in the home.

The “pavilion living” lifestyle has 3 major advantages, including general cleaning and upkeep is limited to the space that is occupied at that time, everyone has their own private spaces and an income potential from renting out units that are not occupied at the time.

Project description

The client requested that the architecture of his weekend home in Nottingham Road, rural KwaZulu-Natal, embrace a contemporary take on traditional African village architecture. 

Architect Peter Rich said African space can be defined as a set of detached pavilions that define outdoor space and according to Dr. Nkambule the concept of detached enclosed spaces goes way back in the history of African settlements. For each family, each wife had her own sleeping structure, a storage structure and a kitchen structure, each having open-air functions attached to them. Then there were the granary structures, older boys’ and girls’ structures and guest structures. 


As a result, the house was divided up into separate pavilions which can each function on its own but can also act together as a whole to accommodate a large family. The various sleeping pavilions are therefore positioned around a central living pavilion which forms the heart of the homestead.

This concept posed several challenges with local authority approval as the definition of a house is still believed to be located beneath a single roof. To get approval an application for special consent had to be obtained for a guest house which is the closest similar structure.

The holistic passive design optimises the interior climate of the pavilions and eliminates the need for alternative heating and cooling. Main living areas are oriented north but glazing north and south ensure integration to the outside spaces. Predominant north oriented glazing in conjunction with exposed concrete floors and correct overhang sizes allow passive heating of interior spaces during winter months. Low emissivity glass is used to prevent heat loss on the southern facade. Both northern and southern facades have large sliding doors, utilizing the site specific prevailing wind direction and allowing sufficient natural ventilation and cooling in summer. Polycarbonate walls were used in combination with glazing to allow an abundance daylight into the interiors.

Simplicity of materials and layout, sustainability, low maintenance and cost effective construction formed the core of the design. Materials include quarry stone, exposed polished concrete floors and polycarbonate screens. Materials were used in their raw honest format without pretense completing the holistic reference to African architecture. 

Meet the team:

Architect: Nadine Engelbrecht 

Client: Sibongiseni Mkhungo

Structural Engineer: Mike Hemmingway

Main Contractor: Micon

Photographer: Marsel Roothman & Anita Janeke

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