Our client (an industrialist from Gauteng) purchased a portion of the Amanzi Amakhulu Reserve on the banks of the Sterkfontein Dam near Harrismith in the north-eastern Free State.
As a nature lover, enthusiastic about water sport; the house was to be a holiday haven to his family; acknowledging the site and making use of both the views and natural light.
The site chosen lay against a mountain with a steep eastern gradient which sloped to the waters edge below. A narrow building nestled along the slope and orientated along a north/south axis felt appropriate. This arrangement would be economical, would respect the views, and would offer protection from the predominant north-westerly wind. Another challenge was sunshine? In a climate of extremes; a building requires sunshine. We decided on the use of a light/stairwell which we formed by means of slanting the rear/retention wall out and away from the rest of the house. This well became an angular double volume concrete box with colored glass holes punched into it. The western sun would shine through both these and the windblocks above; providing natural light not only to the well, but passage and upper bedrooms also. Heat is absorbed and radiated from this space, which also links the upper and lower floors both physically and visually. The use of open plan, continuity of floor tile patterns and the use of large glazed windows, all assist in visually linking internal to external spaces.
The architectural language had to address both the sloping site; the Free State location and the expanse of fresh water. We decided to cut the house into the slope (as described above) and crowned the structure with a sloping mono-pitch roof which would respect the natural slope of the site. Roof sheeting and sandstone cladding was used as material to address the geographical (ie. Free State) context; while cantilevered balconies, stainless steel balustrades and clean windows give an almost nautical touch.
What started out as a holiday home; has fast become a permanent residence for a very satisfied client.