Perched on the side of Northcliff ridge is Johannesburg, which is known for its impressive vistas, is Cliff House – a suburban home with a sustainable vision.

The steep and rocky site posed many challenges for architect Dirk Coetser from Architecture for a Change, but the client Mary Driscoll was determined to build a family house in the most sustainable manner possible. Driscoll researched a number of alternative construction methods including rammed earth and straw bales, but in the end, Cliff House was built using secondhand shipping containers and largely recycled materials. The latter includes floors made of recycled wine corks and repurposed plastic bottles providing insulation for the walls.

The house is 100% off-the-grid with a borehole providing for all the water needs and solar panels taking care of electricity supply. In addition, clever placement of windows and use of natural ventilation cuts down on the energy needs of the house.

The end result is a building that not only minimises environmental impact but also makes a visual statement.

For more detailed insight into the design and construction of Cliff House, click here.