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African Homestead

Luxury Bush Villa in Phinda Game Reserve, Natal - 2008

In many ways this project exemplifies our work.  It is both a homage to and critique of traditional South African architecture. The overall form and the materials used are familiar to almost all lodges but where the vernacular often seeks to insulate its inhabitants from harshness outside, the homestead embraces the surrounding bush and invites it in. Where in the vernacular materials are often, even deliberately, rough and ready; here these same materials have been finely wrought and applied with delicacy and finesse. As always our intention is to make the relationship between the inhabitant and the surrounding bush as intimate as possible.

This is achieved through glass, openness, a lateral plan form with courtyards and ponds that invite the bush to intrude into the heart of the house and small “tricks” such as narrow decks and placing beds forward in the rooms, embracing the view. The lounge and dining room have practically no solid walls at all, the decks terrace to practically level with the ground in front and the pool licks out at the pan. Utmost care was taken to ensure zero ecological impact outside the confines of the building footprint. The materials are hewn, spokeshaved ,sanded or planed to reveal the rawness of the material. Rock is tumbled into gabions rather than pointed with cement. Gumpoles are shaved to reveal the pale heartwood. Sandstone is honed. These refined materials applied to a simple orthogonal plan yield a clean cut, contemporary and un-cliched home for luxurious but sustainable bushveld living.