An elevated glass koi pond, a sleek suspended porte cochere and the semi-circular facade of this luxury retreat in South Africa are dramatically framed by towering beams. Glass House by Nico Van Der Meulen Architects is a dynamic space full of transparent walls, with an open interior that welcomes in sunlight and views of the tranquil backyard.

The suspended glass and steel portico leading into the structure has a cantilevered effect thanks to narrow steel supports and vast expanses of glass. An above-ground koi pond set in a reflecting pool serves as both a dramatic focal point, and a means of regulating temperature in both summer and winter.

The glass doors of the lanai can all be opened, blurring the transition between the interior spaces and the large swimming pool and gardens outdoors. This luxury home also features an art gallery, gym, a basement garage with parking for twelve cars and a main suite with a built-in kitchenette and a transparent glass bathroom with automatic blinds that look translucent from outside, but still allow views from within.

The heated pond continues from the outside of the home to the inside, where it is topped with glass and a stainless steel staircase illuminated with blue LED lights.

Subtle, this monumental house is not; its size and complexity borrows from the over-the-top aesthetics of the 1980s, and some aspects of it recall more commercial structures. Taking elements from luxury residences of Johannesburg from decades past, the design of the Glass House fulfills the owners’ request for glamour.

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“Nico van der Meulen Architects presented an architectural design in a horseshoe shape around a central water feature. The frameless glass folding doors start at the dining room and stretch for approximately 70m around the dining room, atrium, family room, lanai, water feature and gym. The family room is a partially double volume space, flowing seamlessly into the lanai and heated indoor pool.”

“The staircase floats over a pond that is solar heated in winter, together the indoor pool and heat storage tanks keep the home at a constant 24°C throughout winter. In the background, a circular raised glass water feature is framed by a two storey high beam which obviates the need for corner columns at the main suite.”