On the Rocks
On the rocks This seaside holiday house on the rocks at de Kelders, Overberg Cape – South Africa, is a careful sculptural interpretation of our clients very specific brief. It is a ship-lapped chamfered box-liked structure sunk into the sea-facing slope with its only open side facing the view over Walker Bay, breeding haven for Southern Right Wales. Exposed to all its neighbours and famous cape winds, this structure provides for a totally private and sheltered courtyard. Entering at the higher street level through a solid wall one, is guided down a ramp into the spectacular sea view unfolding across the courtyard and through the main living space edged with a sea facing verandah with its low slung corrugated verandah roof – protection against the harsh western sun. This sheltered courtyard is the heart of the house, sun is drawn in and plays against the highly sculptural walls. The living areas facing the sea form transitional spaces managing the elements and view with its glass and aluminium shutters, which can be moved into cavity walls allowing all year round enjoyment of the courtyard. Every room in the house has a sea view, even the two quest suites across the courtyard with its wet room type bathroom and dressing areas. Whale watching is done from the partially covered sun deck on the roof complete with fireplace, daybed ledges and a cabin. The architectural language is derived from the old ship-lap timber and corrugated cottages found along the Cape Coast. Over scaled ship-lapped plaster walls allow for interesting shadow play. Corrugated verandahs protect against the severe African sun. The grey green colour pallet of the house is taken from the indigenous coastal vegetation which is allowed to grow back against the house and planted in the courtyard planter with the feature indigenous wild olive tree, a low-maintenance option. Open floating shelving were used for kitchen shelves and tops, dressing room and store room shelves, adding to the relaxed holiday feel. Client’s brief: “The specification is for a holiday home on a seafront site on the Cape Coast of South-Africa. The house should be instantly identifiable as such and the design must relate to its immediate location – the rugged Cape coastline – as well as the wider context of an emerging vernacular of Southern African domestic architecture. The design should reflect a modern approach but should not be so specific as to be linked to a particular period / style. Simplicity is key and the project should use natural materials that reflect and blend with the environment. The building materials should be able to withstand the harsh weather conditions a seafront property faces and should ideally also be chosen for their durability and low maintenance requirements. Internally, the house should offer a warm and welcoming atmosphere. The rooms should be generously proportioned in terms of both space and volume. Although the square footage of the property is not a specific priority, the volume available within the limits of the building regulations should be exploited in the plan and ceiling heights should not be compromised. The owners live abroad and the house may be vacant for extended periods of time. The design should prioritise security both during these periods as well as whilst the owners are in residence. Specification General: The house must capitalise on all the available views across Walker Bay. The master bedroom suite and reception spaces should exploit sea vies to the fullest but ideally all rooms will have at least partial access to views of the sea. The site is perfectly located for land-based whale watching and the house should have a viewing platform / roof terrace for this purpose. Privacy is a priority and consideration must be given in the design to exclude neighbouring buildings from the sightlines where possible. From street entrance, the dwelling should be discreet, even bland, and offer secure parking for at least two cars. The structure of the building might be used to provide shelter/shade for the parking area. Communal living space: Living space should comprise of a generously proportioned sitting and dining areas with open onto decking with an outdoor barbecue area. Outdoor terracing should be provided with some shelter from the prevailing winds as necessary. There can be some built in seating to the outside area – which might offer a practical solution to the impact of the wind. When in use, the seating might be covered with soft – furnishing. However, it is vital that there is storage planned that can house these cushions within the main house for night times and when the property is not in use. Main kitchen area: The main kitchen area should primarily focus on cooking activity and house a gas hob, double, electric, fan-assisted oven and a food preparation sink. Separately, the kitchen area should have a pantry / scullery area to provide additional storage and house a dishwasher and double sink. There should be a cloakroom for use by guests and an outdoor shower area is essential. The house should be temperature efficient but under-floor heating can be incorporated where necessary. Sleeping accommodation: Master bedroom suite: Dressing area and en-suite bathroom with bath, shower for 2, 2 basins and a separate toilet. It is essential to maximise the exposure to views from the master suite (including the bathroom) and the master suite must have a separate, private terrace. Guest bedroom suite with en suite facilities to include dressing area and shower, toilet and basin. Additional studio space with en-suite facilities (shower, basin and toilet) and a small kitchenette (basin, fridge, electric hob and microwave) Other: It would be ideal if a plunge pool could be incorporated in the plans but the budgetary constraints may necessitate that this is built at a later stage.”


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