STRANDVELD HOUSE

A holiday cottage 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, which was heavily degraded due to its illegal use as a parking area for many years, is surrounded by critically endangered Saldanha Granite Strandveld and features 120 degree uninterrupted views of the coastline.

Strandveld House is a contemporary interpretation of the lime-washed, thatched fisherman’s cottages found at Kassiesbaai, typical of the Sand- and Strandveld vernacular of the South-Western Cape. The result is a simple thatch-roofed pavilion with two abutments enclosing a small courtyard. From the South eastern side, a sequence of walls announce the entrance pathway. The thick white-washed walls are symmetrically arranged using square- and golden mean proportions. The long North west facing axis faces the bay, with generous double-volume living and kitchen areas spilling out onto the stoep. Low stoep walls provide seating 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 topsoil and plants rescued prior to clearing, along with strandveld cuttings and endemic seeds. Recycled and sustainable materials feature throughout: the timber floor and ceiling were machined from recycled French oak shelves; teak and Oregon pine doors and windows are all reclaimed; and invasive hardwood (Eucalyptus cladocalyx) from local kloofs was used for the roof beams and 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 interior. Cupboards, shelves and internal door frames are hidden within the thick walls, resulting in simple, tranquil spaces. The 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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