Nico van der Meulen - 2014 Judge

Caesarstone Kitchen Design Competition 2014 Judge


What is your design background?
My wife, Santa, and I established Nico van der Meulen Architects in
1984. Having grown up on a farm near the South Africa, Botswana and Zimbabwean borders I spent most of my childhood building bridges and other structures using whatever materials I could find lying around. Looking back, I realized this was my first expression for my passion of architecture. I started out by studying civil engineering then I explored project management until finally I registered as a
professional architect.

Describe a memorable design project you were involved in recently?
The most memorable project we recently completed was House Boz. The 777m² home is situated on a hill within a secluded nature estate in
Pretoria East and was inspired to resemble a bush lodge. The client
requested a spacious and luxurious four bedroom contemporary home. Making use of a lot of steel, glass and concrete, the design of this residence placed a large emphasis on the layout of the living rooms.

The vast and natural setting of the site made it easy for this bush-
lodge looking house to respond to nature and its immediate
surroundings. Translating this concept into a contemporary home was almost effortless thanks to the location, orientation and natural beauty of the site.

Describe your dream kitchen.
My dream kitchen is one that is spacious enough to accommodate the
whole family, and opens up to the living areas, creating a seamless
integration between inside and outside. Ideally, I believe a kitchen
should be positioned on the north-east corner of the house, allowing
the morning light to flood the interiors. With correctly designed sun
control, the architect / designer can ensure that the harshness of
the summer sun is blocked out while the winter sun graciously
penetrates the room. The kitchen should preferably have frameless
stacking doors that open up to the patio, allowing for indoor-outdoor
living on those warm summer days; and also allowing natural light and
ventilation to naturally cool and heat this space all year round.

What are you hoping to see in the design entries this year?
I'm hoping to see innovative designs that are not just aesthetically
pleasing, but also functional. A kitchen should be designed
practically with a focus on how the space will be used. Well designed
working stations are essential, for instance a beverage station where
you can stand in one spot and make coffee, tea or pour a cold drink,
with everything necessary within reach. Therefore correct positioning
of appliances and a prep bowl for example are crucial. The same
applies for food preparation, cooking or baking. Furthermore, it
would also be nice to see designs that maximize South Africa's great

It is always good to hear constructive criticism about your work as
it enables you to incorporate this feedback into your next projects
and designs.

Competitions like these allow the opportunity for your colleagues to
showcase their work which will broaden your horizons and make you
aware of what is happening in the industry.