LocationStellenbosch, South Africa
Architect in ChargeJohann Slee
StylingRetha Erichsen, Frank Features
'n Plaasdorpshuis - Our brief was simple - create a home where you are constantly aware of the beautiful mountains surrounding us, the reason we gave up city life.
As architect and client I could explore my intense appreciation for our local honest farm structures, and use it as inspiration for our new home. The simplicity of the functional corrugated structures found on every farm in South Africa and the honest use of local raw materials.
The house is designed on a property that borders on a Nature Reserve to the north and being on the historical bank of the Eerste River is slightly raised, this allows for uninterrupted views over the tree tops onto the magnificent mountains surrounding Stellenbosch.
The design consists of four simple ‘corrugated’ shed structures linked with local stone ‘kraal’ walls. The steel structures are carefully positioned to capitalise on north orientation, maximise on the mountain views and to shield against the Cape winds. These steel structures and the stone walls are carefully manipulated to capture the views from all the living and bedroom spaces. Dormer window position and sizes are determined by the height of the mountains it is facing, stone walls sculpted and angled to acknowledge the views and to create protected courtyards.
Over scaled glass walls disappear into stone cavities transforming the living areas into a large open verandah. The house floats on a fynbos grassland bordering the Nature Reserve and to the south a loose packed stone terrace lead onto the ‘farm’ - the old tennis court converted into a working vegetable garden.
Low maintenance finishes are used throughout. Careful attention was given to north orientation and carefully insulating all the structures, this is done to optimise the alternative energy systems integrated into the ceilings and wall construction. A solar roof over the north verandah heats the household water and the swimming pool in winter.
"It is like living on a farm, our views are so carefully planned that we are not aware of anybody around us"