Wednesday, August 11, 2021

Architecture Wednesday: River House F

The house, a summer retreat for a family living in London, sits along the Kromme River estuary that flows into the warm Indian Ocean in South Africa. The long and narrow site—a little shy of an acre—stretches from the street to the river.

The original house was demolished to make way for a new house positioned at the rear of the site, with a vehicular graveled courtyard enclosed behind low walls facing the street. The thatch roofs and curved bagged walls are contemporary in a manner yet reminiscent of the original St Francis Bay bungalows, a combination of fisherman’s cottage and Cape farm architecture. Architectural guidelines mandated the clean white walls and pitched in thatch or slate.

The house consists of single storey “barn-like” forms placed in a series of configurations to create “little werfs”—a local term for farm courtyards—which, in turn, create varying degrees of shelter and privacy. Each “barn” serves a different function: the first is a service wing housing a garage and kitchen, two are for outdoor entertainment, one for the living and dining spaces and two are for sleeping. The courtyards in between have been planted with indigenous grasses, shrubs, and trees to reintroduce the presence of the nearby coastal thicket.

Where the house opens to the outside, the large thatch roofs are supported on a series of over-scaled eucalyptus columns; these pavilions can open entirely by sliding the glass doors and timber shutters aside into concealed cavities. When all are open, the structures feel like a series of thatched pavilions that allow the seamless free flow of movement from inside to out and allows for uninterrupted transition from one courtyard through the house, to the next.

The children’s bedrooms open up onto the entrance courtyard providing a safe and sheltered area in which to play. Two of the bedrooms have sleep lofts as does the playroom, and along with the window seats in the bedrooms, provide guests with additional sleeping space. 

The elevated living room terrace features generous outdoor sitting spaces and is flanked on one side by the main bedroom wing and on the other by the swimming pool. The pool with its long, low, white walls is reminiscent of an old reservoir and is surrounded by indigenous dune forest vegetation. From the poolside deck, timber boardwalks meander through the garden, leading down to a little beach in front of the river.

That said, I love the whimsy of the house, and the openness, and of course that pool and garden area. The cats would have a field day …

Arch Daily


Mistress Maddie said...

I don't hate it...but don't love it. My favorite part of the whole house is the bathroom. I'm not feeling something here...dont know what it is.

Deedles said...

Wow, Mads just took the words right out of my uh, keyboard! I have the exact same sentiment.

Bob said...

I love the thatched roof, and the inside-outside feel of it. I kinda wish it was on the beach and not just riverside.

I could live in that tub!

the dogs' mother said...

A long way to go for a family retreat!
xoxo :-)

Mistress Maddie said...

Deedles and I must be hanging to much these days. Best advice at this house....don't light a match toots!

Sixpence Notthewiser said...

I actually like this. I love the idea of the werfs and having different functions for each 'barn'.
And I also love the bathroom, because for some weird reason I'm into bathrooms.


Bob said...

You may be right about you and Deedles. I'm not sure if I should start calling you "Maddles" or start calling her "Mistress Deedie."

I like that, too; sort of that compound feeling.

Deedles said...

Bobulah, honey, sweetie pie, if you don't want me to start calling you and Carlos Barlos knock it off! :)

Janie Junebug said...

I'm with Maddie and Deedles. All I really like is the bathroom. I really dislike those green chairs that look so uncomfortable and are too green and the long shag-type rug.


Moving with Mitchell said...

It doesn’t sing to me, but there are some wonderful elements. And I spotted two red pillows for Deedles.

Ur-spo said...

I liked the tub most.

Bob said...

@Mistress Deedie
I like Barlos ... or Cobulah! =)

I am dying over those green chairs. I may book a flight to South Africa, Google Streetview this house, sneak in and steal them.

I'm loving the thatched roofs and the indoor-outdoor, and that Gold Fireplace!

It is a great tub!!! Perfect for those lazy rainy days!

Travel said...

Maybe, as a weekend get away. It needs more color.

Bob said...

You and Deedles can bring the red!

brewella deville said...

Sometimes I think people who design homes that "open up to the outside" as seems to be the current trend have never really spent any time living outdoors. Once you've had to sweep a rattlesnake out of your garage, chase a bat out of your attic, or find yourself toe to toe-biting face with an alligator lizard emerging out from under your refrigerator you start to think twice about getting rid of things like screens and doors.