Oct 092012
Project information

Name: House Strandveld
Client: Undisclosed
Location: Castle Rock, Cape Town
Status: Ongoing

The house is located alongside one of the most beautiful stretches of beach in the world. This did not make the commission easy – there were huge difficulties – the need to undertake environmental, heritage, archeological and botanical impact assessment studies was exhausting and has taken over two and a half years to complete. The site is small – it is little over 220 square meters in area with an allowable footprint of 110 square meters. This is a small house with a big program and the challenge was to meet the owners’ needs within the envelope of space that was allowed. The house steps down to the beach – there is an arrival/entrance level, a kitchen and eating level and a living level open to the beach. The bedrooms are hung above the living space and accessed from a gallery which wraps around three sides of the house. All these levels are held by two solid flanking parallel walls. There are no openings in these walls – the only openings occur at right angles between these walls at the top and bottom of the site which either open to the beach in front or the mountain behind. A glass sliding roof is located above a double volume space at the center of the house and opens up to the sun and the mountain behind. When the South-Easter blows making use of the beach difficult the family can retreat to the house, close up the vertical openings and open up the house to the sun and air through the glass sliding horizontal roof. The exterior finish of the house is a very rough hand thrown plaster made up of white cement, sea sand, crushed sea shells and small pebbles and stones from the site. Exposed concrete is made from white cement and a white tint and is cast within rough hewn timber shutters in which the grain of the shutter is clearly imprinted on the final concrete finish. The interior of the house is very different – the finishes are more precise and differently scaled. The sensibility of the inside is in sharp contrast to the exterior and evokes a space of retreat from the beach when the wind blows. All exterior openings are protected by aluminum sliding/folding adjustable louver panels which provide security at night time and close up the house when not in use. Externally all corners are rounded to soften the impact of the house in the fynbos landscape. Access to the beach is via the access road at the top of the site – there will be no paths cutting through the fynbos to connect the house to the beach. This will heighten the effect of a house marooned in a sea of fynbos.