Old meets new – glass floating room addition – The GSA way


It has been said that the only constant thing about life and living is change. The materials used in the construction of homes has changed as well. Glass has become popular as an alternative to brick or cement wall options. This marks design growth in both architecture and construction.

Growth being the defining factor of change, the addition of a new member of the family requires changes to lifestyle and the surroundings that which we occupy.

In line with the natural laws of change, the Drimie family was expecting a new baby and their home would soon be too small to fit their young family. They decided to make additions to their Herbert Baker “Kleine Schuur” home, which boasts a heritage building in Parktown, Johannesburg.

They employed the services of Office24-7 Architects and Design to help them maintain the buildings integrity and create a modern feel that would suite their growing unit.

Director of Office 24-7 architects and design, Nabeel Essa said, “The owners consulted me with an interesting dilemma, they lived in an exquisite but somewhat impractical and small Herbert Baker House. They were expecting a second child and needed the house and its adjacent outbuildings to be maximized to meet the pragmatic needs of a young family and a Johannesburg suburban lifestyle.”

Being able to preserve the historical and impressive architecture applied when the building was first developed was a goal they hoped to achieve. They also had to consider the need for additional space, so tempering with the building could not be avoided.

It also meant working with the space confinements that existed. Essa commented,” The tight spatial constraints, the heritage narrative, and the dramatic Parktown ridge setting defined a complex design challenge. This project was an exercise in smallness, asking how little space we need to live in without compromising on comfort and how maximizing space is about sustainability.”

With all these specifications, the Office 24-7 team embarked on making life easier for Scott Drimie and his family. To construct the new floating room, glass, steel, concrete and timber were used to meet design specifications. And because the floating room was designed to let in as much light as it could, it essentially became a glass room floating above ground level. The glass would allow for maximum light to flow into the room from beyond the trees. Also, to give a clear view of the surrounding back yard that acts as play and outdoor entertainment area for the parents and children alike.


Keeping true to the creation of a floating glass room, GSA ColourVue laminate safety glass in grey translucent was used in the construction of the room.

ColourVue was the perfect product for this project because of its function as a safety glass; it is strengthened for safety and security ensuring that the glass walls do not buckle under the strain of the elements; it has excellent glare control capabilities and functions well as a decorative measure as well.

Grey is a good colour choice because it is light but adds a decorative dimention. The ColourVue smart glass solution comes in a varied number of colours and translucent tints. These can be seen on the GSA website, here

“Glass was used to create lightness and to absorb the view. Steel helped to get clean lines to define the floating box. Concrete was used as both the floor and ceiling to show an honesty and texture of construction material as a finish. And timber, together with the organic materiality of a vertical garden, were used to create an artificial landscape on which the glass box floats,” Essa explained.

The beautiful and innovative design of the floating room earned Office 24-7 Architects the Gauteng Institute for Architecture Award 2012/3 and a South African Institute of Architects Award of Merit 2013/4 for their work.

We congratulate them on a fantastic job and wish the Drimie family well in their new family space.


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