Blending with its natural surrounds, this house was designed to disrupt the landscape as little as possible.
Situated in the heart of a 300ha stretch of undisturbed bushveld near Thabazimbi in Limpopo, this house, designed by architect Hugo Hamity, was inspired by its location.
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“It took a few site visits with the client and contractor to determine the final positioning of the house,” says Hugo. “A vast elongated rock on the edge of a cliff with all-around views was chosen and the house follows the contours and the shape of the Marakele Mountains behind.”
Rock from the site was used to clad the elevated pool and cellar, a feature wall in the living room and the entrance, blending the house into the bush. “The steel structure allows for seamless merging of interior and exterior spaces, emphasised by the use of wooden flooring throughout – Balau timber outside and solid oak indoors,” adds Hugo.
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The owners wanted a home that would provide family living areas, as well as areas for guests. “To do this we built two self-contained cottages next to the main house,” Hugo explains. “The smaller structures form part of a uniform continuous whole, joined by external decks.”
As it’s situated beyond the reach of municipal services, the house is completely off the grid. Power is generated by a solar farm on the property and drinking, washing and bathing water comes from a natural spring. “There is also a built-in sewage treatment tank and the treated water is used for irrigation,” says Hugo.
Several passive design elements maximise natural ventilation and reduce the need for air conditioning. The elevated design and ‘chimney’ effect of the roof create natural ventilation through automated south-facing clerestory windows. The east-west axis also encourages a natural air flow. “The roof angle and light coloured sheeting for sun reflection, cavity walls and insulation also moderate the indoor temperatures,” says Hugo.
“We opted for an elevated steel structure, eliminating the need for below-ground foundations. Steel columns are bolted directly into the existing rock with steel bracket plates. The structure could easily be dismantled in its entirety and the only evidence of its existence would be the holes from the steel bolts in the natural rock, returning the site to nature,” says Hugo.
AT A GLANCE
THE ARCHITECT: Hugo Hamity of Hugo Hamity Architects.
THE CLIENTS: Carel and Annerie Jordaan and their two teenage children.
THE BRIEF: A house that caters for both family living and private spaces and causes the least possible disruption to the environment.
THE HOUSE: A single-storey home with the main living areas, bedroom and service areas linked by a decked walkway to a separate bedroom, gym, study and two cottages.