AR­CHI­TECT’S PLAN: MAS­TER­ING THE EL­E­MENTS

This pretty sea­side hol­i­day house was de­signed to em­brace the coastal sur­rounds and with­stand the el­e­ments

South African Garden and Home - - Contents - SOURCE Louise Wile­man Ar­chi­tects lwarch.co.za

A con­tem­po­rary beach house at Wit­sand on the Cape coast

The own­ers of this prop­erty had hol­i­dayed at Wit­sand on the Breede River for many years,” says ar­chi­tect Louise Wile­man, “so they knew all about the wind in this area.”

Their brief to her was to de­sign a house that would not scar the nat­u­ral beauty of the amaz­ing site at the mouth of South Africa’s only nav­i­ga­ble river. They also wanted a strong vis­ual link to the breath­tak­ing views and a wind-free en­ter­tain­ing court­yard.

“This last re­quire­ment was quite a chal­lenge,” re­calls Louise, “and was the de­ter­min­ing fac­tor in the fi­nal lay­out and de­sign of the roof­s­cape. Gale-force winds of­ten blow for days, caus­ing strong whirl­winds when def lected over solid struc­tures,” Louise ex­plains.

“We solved this prob­lem by break­ing up the build­ing to cre­ate exit channels for the wind be­tween the struc­tures,” she says. This also helped to re­duce the scale of the house, merg­ing it with the land­scape with­out com­pro­mis­ing the dou­ble-vol­ume spa­ces in­side.

A guest cot­tage was built at the top of the site to pro­vide ad­di­tional ac­com­mo­da­tion and of­fer pri­vacy for the en­ter­tain­ing court­yard to which dressed stone cladding from Bar­ry­dale adds or­ganic tex­ture and warmth.

Large slid­ing doors con­nect the

in­door spa­ces with the view and light is fil­tered through ad­justable lou­vred shut­ters. Strate­gi­cally placed gable win­dows al­low the soft early morn­ing and late af­ter­noon light into bed­rooms and liv­ing spa­ces.

“The build­ing en­ve­lope was strictly con­trolled to en­sure that the pris­tine nat­u­ral veg­e­ta­tion was left undis­turbed,” says Louise. A tim­ber deck was added to the front of the house on a light sub­struc­ture to min­imise dam­age to the slope down to the river.

Louise, a run­ner, cy­clist, avid hiker and na­ture-lover came to ar­chi­tec­ture by chance. “About 25 years ago, I was work­ing for an en­gi­neer as a CAD draftsper­son and was asked by an ar­chi­tec­tural con­sor­tium to help out on a pro­ject that was CAD-based. “I just fell head over heels in love with ar­chi­tec­ture and re­alised that I was born to do this – to cre­ate homes for peo­ple.”

She then qual­i­fied as a pro­fes­sional se­nior ar­chi­tec­tural tech­nol­o­gist. “I’m def­i­nitely a mod­ernist, but also love na­ture. I think the or­ganic al­ways tran­scends style or pe­riod,” she says.

Louise opened her own ar­chi­tec­tural prac­tice 12 years ago and an im­por­tant as­pect of her work is her in­sis­tence on a quan­tity sur­veyor’s es­ti­mate on the ini­tial con­cept plans. This en­sures that her clients are aware of whether what they want is within their bud­get.

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