Clanwilliam is a small town on the Western coast of South Africa. The surrounding areas thrive due to the large Rooibos Tea production and farming. This little coastal town is very quiet and laid back. To be honest, I never really knew this town existed until a husband and wife asked me to design them a weekend climbing retreat.
Apparently not only is this town famous for Rooibos, but there are some of the greatest rocks, mountains and boulders for climbing.
The client wanted a family home with a lot of natural Northern sunlight, a huge, unspoiled yard and garden for their baby to play and uninterrupted views of the mountains. They also asked for a small granny-flat, or flatlet to be built in conjunction with the house, to possibly rent out to fellow climbers.
The municipality had relatively strict building regulations and the scheme quickly became more complicated, as the client wanted to build a home from a new building method called NuTec. This method and materials for building isn’t used very often in SA, and not many architects know how to draft architectural drawings in this particular fashion.
The family started off with something small and compact, but in order to really enjoy the full spectrum of the view and the mountains, a second storey was added. The flatlet needed to be perceived as part of the original dwelling as the municipality no longer approve second structures to a stand.
I met up with the contractor, that would bring the family’s dream to life, to ask for assistance in drafting the technical aspects of the house in a manner that would be approved by the local authority.
The NuTec material and structural specifications were the greatest challenge during this project. Due to South Africa’s climate and the coastal location the walls needed to be cavity and insulated with thick fibers to have the same embodied energy than a brick wall of the same thickness. The construction is however mostly dry, apart from the foundation, all walls, roof and floor can be installed in days, thus no time is wasted on wet works.
The couple have however not yet started construction as the costs are close to and in some instances even more expensive than brick.
It was a great learning curve and I hope to see this structure rise up to the heavens and be the home and retreat that this couple has been dreaming of.