The glorious eccentricity that is Sterik and Lizane Gerber’s home in Johannesburg is a work of art and a constant work in progress.
“I think my wife wanted to live in a scrapyard,“ says Sterik, looking around at the treasure trove garden. "He’s right,“ Lizane adds.”If there’s something old and rusted that’s of no use to anyone, I’ll probably want it.”
Her shabby-chic aesthetic contrasts surprisingly well with Sterik’s more austere sensibility. “I tend towards an industrial look. I often work with glass, steel, stone and wood, and I try to combine them in a series of clean lines,“ says the architect. For Sterik, taking on the project of designing our house was somewhat challenging after years of working in the commercial field.
“All of a sudden,I was my own client – and I had to pay for it, too. It was definitely a learning curve.” Sterik’s main aim was to create one big, airy structure, so he devised a double-volume steel frame, which he filled with glass, wood and stone. What he likes most are the mechanized roll-up doors, typical of motor dealerships. “They’re remote-controlled so in the mornings we can just press a button while we’re still in bed and the entire house will open up.”
The spaciousness of the house is a boon for a young family with two adventurous sons and four waddling dachshunds. The industrial planter, windmill, and old, defunct motorbikes scattered about the garden may seem haphazardly placed, but Lizane is adamant that everything she’s collected makes perfect sense.
The interiors are no different, with artefacts such as 60-year-old wooden crutches (from one of Lizane’s medical clients), a rusted rake and, most strikingly, a typical British phone box, making for conversation pieces in every corner. Their home, says Lizane, is full of memories and stories, the phone box being no exception.
The Gerbers admit that their house is probably ”not for everyone”.
”It works for us though,“ says Sterik. ”It’s a playground for growing kids, and when our friends come around they kick off their shoes, grab a beer and fight over the pod chair outside.
“People feel comfortable here, and that’s how we want it.”