Eco-estate Monaghan Farm, located near Lanseria Airport, north-west of Johannesburg, has taken a new approach to modern living and sustainability with its 517 ha development, dedicated to farm living.
Once the R200-million development has been completed, all buildings on the property will occupy only 3% of the land. A full 78% of the land will be set aside for common open space.
All buildings recede into the landscape and boundary walls are not permitted, adding to the free-flowing layout. All the houses are required to have only one storey so that views are not impeded.
The farm, which is owned by the residents, comprises six distinct villages and each residential node is private.
The development has been designed to reflect a density of one residential unit for every 2 ha and will eventually comprise only 300 properties of about 4 500 m2 each.
Monaghan development manager Chandre Buys tells Engineering News that all construction should be completed in the next four years.
“The first three phases of the development are complete and the fourth phase is the delivery of communal areas. We are also developing a Curro school and a Montessori school. At least 60% of the first three phases have been sold and more than 50 families currently occupy the property,” he says.
More than 30 homes are also currently under construction on the development.
The development is also a working organic farm, with 4 ha of organic gardens containing vegetables, fruit, herbs and flowers, which are delivered to Monaghan residents.
The development is strict on principles of environmental respect. As a result, houses need to be built to incorporate rainwater harvesting, energy efficiency and recycling.
“Solar and geothermal energy, photovoltaic panels, low-voltage lighting and heat pumps are just a few of the energy-saving initiatives that have been put in place in every home, along with a rainwater harvesting system, with a minimum capacity of 20 000 ℓ, for each property,” Buys says.
Many homes are also feeding electricity back into the national grid and are built facing north, incorporating passive solar design, natural light and cross aeration. Further, most homes have wood-burning fire stoves or solar waterborne underfloor heating.
Many houses on the property are constructed using light steel frames and rammed earth – a technique of building walls using natural raw materials. Rammed-earth walls are noncombustible, thermally insulated and durable.
One of the highlights of the development is the Stand 47 light-steel-frame house, an architectural case study that is a project of interior building solutions group Saint-Gobain Gyproc, construction company Style Project and architectural studio Thomashoff & Partner Architects.
Stand 47 showcases design specifications and construction that use innovative materials and applied efficiency processes.
Saint-Gobain Gyproc residential sector manager Michelle Cerruti explains that there was a need to create a platform to demonstrate a way to build “a better home using better materials for better performance in the long term”.
The house is clad in an external thermal-insulation composite system (Etics), which comprises an insulating core, like polystyrene, as well as the necessary components for fixing and decoration that are applied onto masonary walls or steel-frame constructions as external insulation.
Etics can substantially reduce heating or air-conditioning costs, and can be used to renovate facades, thereby providing them with a new appearance.
says Saint-Gobain Gyproc wanted to provide a physical example for consumers and professionals to see what a ‘smarter’ home – regarding the way it is designed, its sustainability and efficiency – looks like.
“We also wanted to showcase a building for which contemporary building materials were used, [instead of] using traditional materials such as brick.”
Monaghan Farm is one of 15 finalists in the 2014 AfriSam SAIA Awards for sustainable architecture.
The awards, hosted by cement producer AfriSam and the South African Institute of Architects, acknowledge buildings that are the result of an integrated approach to architecture, natural systems and technology.
The nominees must have a positive influence on their communities and espouse evirofriendly principles, incorporating strategies such as the reuse of existing structures, developing low-impact and regenerative sites, conserving energy and water and using sustainable or renewable construction materials and practices.