The site on which this house is built, is located on the outskirts of the leafy and heritage rich town that is Stellenbosch and faces onto the winding Eerste Rivier. The brief was to design a spacious 740 square metre house, that is both contemporary and respects the context that includes some houses which date back to the 1700s. This resulted into a modern take on the classical Cape Dutch “H” house plan.
The house is divided into two zones, the more public living/entertainment areas are located on the ground floor and enjoy the ability to open out onto the garden area through full height sliding folding doors, while the more private areas are located on the first floor. The kitchen forms the heart of the house and was designed with the aim to bring the family together, to connect and to share meals on the kitchen bar counter while taking in the river view through the horizontal window. A notable feature of the house is the glass fronted wine cellar which is adjacent to the kitchen and close to the dining area, to facilitate the process of choosing a good bottle of wine to accompany meals.
The upstairs of the house comprises five en-suite bedrooms as well as a family pyjama lounge and his and hers studies. The ground and first level connect visually and spatially through the interlinking double volume spaces which furthermore encompass the floating steel and timber access staircase. The roof is light and “floating” to enable light to enter the house and to allow the tree-and mountainscape to be fully enjoyed. It is constructed of solid natural oak, which emphasises the connection to nature. Shading devices are used to extend and soften the roof edges whilst serving a functional need for shading.
The house has been designed and built to be both sustainable and eco-friendly with technology such as a heat pump to provide hot water, close combustion fireplaces, LED lightning throughout the house and insulation under the slabs, in wall cavities and on top of the roof slabs. The palette of materials used are all carefully selected and are made of natural sustainable materials, such as oak flooring and roof structure, porcelain tiling, oak joinery and wool carpeting. Architect Henk Marais concludes “this unashamedly modernist house has blended into the historic neighbourhood bringing with it its own richness of detail and contemporary design elements”.