Lead Architects: Johan Swanepoel, Ann-Mari da Silva
Design Team: Johan Swanepoel, Ann-Mari da Silva, Marcel Swanepoel
Structural Engineering: Cigela Consulting
Landscape: Fynbos Gardens
Contractor: Huart Construction
Text description provided by the architects. Located in a small town on the South coast of the Overberg overlooking the majestic Palmietberg Mountains to the North and the tumultuous Atlantic Ocean to the south, House 4AK stands in an indigenous fynbos garden with a decked courtyard at its heart. Designed as a retreat for a family where inhabitants are encouraged to interact with one another via the central courtyard forming the link between the various spaces and volumes.
The living space, kitchen and courtyard are intersected by the bedroom block, which cantilevers over the front door to protect it from the elements, while announcing its presence to the street. The interior spaces are orientated towards the views and the sanctuary of the courtyard, which also acts as an extension of the living room and outdoor dining area. The main bedroom overlooks a fynbos roof garden set to enhance the view by seemingly integrating the building with the natural beauty of the mountains.
Landscape - The town is located between mountain and sea in a natural landscape of ‘fynbos’, forming part of what is known as the Cape Floral Kingdom, the smallest of the world’s six floral kingdoms. The fynbos has become increasingly endangered in recent years. The holding idea behind the form of the house - a brick mass rising from the fynbos – whilst retaining some of the vegetation on the roof and welcoming indigenous fauna to nest and inhabit it. The building has been pulled back from the street to allow for the fynbos to take over the remainder of the plot, exhibiting the beauty of the natural flora in lieu of the manicured green lawns of neighboring properties.
Materials - The material palette was built around budgetary constraints and the two most commonly used building materials in this part of the world: rough cast off-shutter concrete and the humble brick. For the off-shutter concrete, the shutter boards were laid in a random manner to prevent the concrete from looking too controlled whilst adding to the laid-back beach aesthetic. The bricks are locally sourced non-face brick which were bagged and painted to expose the texture and enhance the feeling of engaging with a handmade object. At the same time it renders the building in a white coat which exhibits the changes of atmospheric lighting conditions.
Light - One is constantly aware of varying light qualities throughout the day; this is reiterated by a skylight cutting across the living room space from east to west, objectifying the passing of time by making it constantly visible. The window openings have been apportioned and arranged according to the view it frames, all the while letting in the level of sunlight required to keep the spaces cool in summer and warm in winter. The western elevation has been left devoid of any window openings to prevent the harsh western sun from penetrating the house and excessively heating the interior, but balconies have been positioned in a way for the inhabitants to still take advantage of the colourful sunsets over mountain and sea.