STRANDVELD HOUSE

This holiday cottage is located on the shores of Moerie-se-Baai, a small rocky inlet in the architecturally-controlled West Coast town of Jacobsbaai. The clients wanted a modest retreat for their young family that would become a special place for celebrations and holidays. The site is surrounded by critically endangered Saldanha granite strandveld and features 120 degree uninterrupted views of the coastline, but was heavily degraded due to it’s illegal use as a parking area for many years.

Strandveld House is a contemporary interpretation of the vernacular built form of the Sand- and Strandveld region of the South-Western Cape, particularly the lime-washed thatched fisherman’s cottages found at Kassiesbaai. The result is a simple thatch-roofed pavilion with two abutments enclosing a small courtyard. The house is approached from the South-Eastern side, where a sequence of walls announce the entrance pathway. The carved half-metre-thick white-washed walls are symmetrically arranged using square- and golden mean proportions. The long axis faces North-West towards the bay, forming the living and kitchen areas expressed as a generous double volume space spilling out onto the stoep. On the North-Western side low walls form seats to enclose the stoep and signal the threshold between private and public space.

The internal footprint is limited to 100 m2 to minimise the environmental impact of the building. Open areas were fully rehabilitated with strandveld cuttings and seeds collected from the surrounding area as well as topsoil and plants rescued prior to clearing of neighbouring sites. Recycled and sustainable building materials were used throughout: the timber floor and ceiling were machined from recycled French oak shelves, the teak and Oregon pine doors and windows are all reclaimed, invasive hardwood (Eucalyptus cladocalyx) cleared from local kloofs was used for all the roof-beams and the pergola.

The design explores the dialogue between old and new, attempting to find a timeless expression of structure and materiality. Eighteenth century Cape yellowwood beams, weathered timber and original Sandveld furniture add warmth to an otherwise light and airy minimalist interior. Cupboards, shelves and internal door frames are hidden within the thickness of the wall, resulting in simple tranquil spaces. Elements like built-in seats, staircase and window- and door chamfers provide opportunities for experimenting with sculptural form and light. The resulting architecture is that of simplicity, restraint and warmth creating respite from busy city life.

Location: Jacobsbaai, Western Cape
Type: Residential Holiday House
Size: 100 m2
Design Team: Bettina Woodward and Jeremy Woodward
Photography: Aubrey Jonnson, Jeremy Woodward and Bettina Woodward

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