The result was a contemporary ‘farm style compound’ with the main house accommodated in a ‘barn’ structure, the garages & workshops (steel- & woodworking workshops for the tinkering owner) in adjoining ‘sheds’ and the entrance & staircase housed in a semi-klinker ‘silo’ structure. A lap pool to the North of the barn act as a passive cooling device in summer, by cooling the warm summer winds from the North-East down through the evaporation of the pool water, and drawing the hot air from the ‘barn’ through large apertures facing the pool to the North & the pasture to the South. Triangular windows in the gables can be opened to draw out further hot air rising to the ceiling level inside the house. Proper insulation materials & methods for the roof, walls & floors, together with double glazing results in a cosy & warm interior. The lap pool is also n analogy of a drinking trough for the cows which used to roam the land and found on the farm before it was developed, hankering to its past, but off course also is just a swimming pool, in which the kids can play or train in for swimming galas.
This house is meant to self-sufficient and ‘off-the-grid’ in the end, through the incorporation of many ideas & systems. Through passive design principals like the correct orientation of the buildings towards North in the Southern Hemisphere (South in the Northern Hemisphere), correct window placing, size & shading, as well as passive heating- & cooling principals, one can create a building which is comfortable to live & work in without necessarily paying extra, through proper design only. Further enhancements came at an extra initial cost, but massive savings in the long run, which makes absolute economic sense. These include items like a rain water harvesting system with galvanized tanks on the outside in feeling with the farm style vernacular, grey water recycling for garden irrigation, solar water heating & photo voltaic (electricity generation) on the roof, the use of recycled materials obtained from demolished buildings & bridges at the time, and low-water-low maintenance gardens, indigenous to the area. For the architect this house is meant to be part experiment, part marketing ploy but mostly a home to live, work & play at, creating a save & healthy environment for the family.
Many lessons were learnt in the design & building process of this house as it was designed & built mostly by the architect himself. The reason was to gain experience in different building- & insulation methods, costs involved in trying out ‘alternative’ building methods, execution ability through the use & training of local unskilled labour, how recycled materials can be reused, etc. , as well as to show that one can live sustainable without living in the proverbial ‘mud hut’, but in an upmarket gated estate. All this takes a lot of time, effort and perseverance, but in the end the architect can consult his clients & contractors alike through experience gained. Many curious people have been visiting this project since the large hole was dug on this beautiful piece of land a few years ago. Some probably came away overwhelmed, surprised or even confused. Some requested the exact same house, after we explained that we never repeat a design, because every client & piece of land is different, but we can design something similar but bespoke for that specific client’s needs, taste & budget and that specific stand’s location, vernacular, climate, context, features and so on.