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Gota Dam Residence / Sforza Seilern Architects

A collaboration between Muzia Sforza and Studio Seilern Architects Harare, Zimbabwe 1500Sqm Private Residence

Architect: Sforza Seilern Architects Local Architect:

Architexture Structural Engineer: Eckersley O’Callaghan Local Structural Engineer: Marcussen and Cocksedge Services Engineer: DSA Engineering Ltd Local Services Engineer: Lage Consultants Lighting Consultant: BDP Lighting Quantity Surveyor: Matrix Quantity Surveyor Contractor: Elevate Project Year: 2012


THE HOUSE is situated atop a granite rock overlooking a large man-made dam, or reservoir for the extensive surrounding farmland. The area is, as awe-inspiring as the piece of architecture that was made for it. The house consists of three basic elements: two granite blocks that enclose the bedrooms and support spaces, an oversized timber platform and cantilevering roof that frame the panoramic views and create shaded living spaces, and two glass boxes that enclose the winter living areas emphasising the feeling of living within natural granite.

Two retaining walls create a small horizon pool, and at the lower level visually integrates the dam reservoir with the lower levels of the house. All elements are orientated to create physical adjacencies and visual privacy. The house sits on levels ranging between 112 and 116 metres above sea level on the edge of a cliff. There is another 50 metre drop to the reservoir. The project had to deal with issues of hyper-inflation and lack of available material.

All materials were sourced locally, except for specialist items such as the glass and the roof waterproofing. The granite used to clad the two anchor blocks were the ‘crusts’ cut-off that came from the granite excavation. The dynamite drill holes are still apparent and tie the building to the area of excavation. Using the granite from the site also insured that the building blended harmoniously with its surroundings.

Reinforced concrete is used to form a series of cantilevers and ground structures. The canopy roofs are steel framed. The building is conceived as a series of accommodation pavilions sitting beneath large roof canopies. The space between the pavilions and under the canopies creates a further outdoor room, sheltered from the sun and from the heavy seasonal rains. The main spaces benefit in having views of the lake, dam and countryside

WAN House of the Year Award 2012

RIBA International Award Winner 2013

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