Breathtakingly bespoke designs from a Johannesburg-based architect


Updating a historic building while respecting its history can be quite the balancing act, but after four decades of designing homes, Nico van der Meulen Architects have harnessed this unifying relationship to perfection. By Stephen Penn

Style over substance leads to dissonance and no-one knows that better than Nico van der Meulen.

Renowned across the globe for designing luxurious homes, his architectural practice focuses on tailoring homes to meet the finely-tuned needs of clients –not just stylistically but physically. The Johannesburg-based firm explores new forms and evolving technology without compromising on the authenticity of the design, aesthetics, materials and originality.

Explains Nico: “Throughout the creative process, we strive to capture every client’s vision and express it through breathtaking bespoke design.”

Over the past 40 years, the consultancy has designed more than 4,000 buildings around the world. Many of these concepts have received international acclaim. Their most recent project, renovating a 12th century watch tower in Italy, not surprisingly, came with its very own set of challenges to overcome.

“In order to preserve the historical site very little could be changed,” says Nico. “But after restoring the exterior, a contemporary interior was conceived to blend with the external fabric of the 800 year-old building.”

The team’s carefully considered approach to design has garnered the company a reputation for creating luxurious living environments from the ground up, as well as transforming existing residences into innovative and extraordinary homes.

He adds: “Our firm lives and breathes the conviction of a total design philosophy, creating a seamless transition between the exterior and the interior, reducing the scale to the finer touch-point details.”

M Square Lifestyle Design, their in-house interior design and decorating company, creates bold interior design solutions, while the upmarket furniture and décor arm of the business offers a selection of the finest imported furniture from design studios around the world.

This combination of creative expertise inspires the architecture of living, instilling a reputation not just for creating attractive shells, but delivering thoughtfully stylish and effective homes.

He adds: “In architecture, functionality should always be given higher priority than form, considering we spend our entire lives inhabiting the structures we’ve crafted rather than admiring their external appearances. Functionalism is our design philosophy and while our facades could have any form and be associated with any style, our buildings will always remain functional.”

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