The building occupies a unique place in a nature reserve in the Waterberg mountains of South Africa; a landscape of remarkable plants, inspiring cliffs, and prodigious wildlife. The brief was to design a home that disappears into the landscape; that sits amongst the rocks and trees and birds; that offers animals and plants and humans equal opportunity to find shelter; that treats the bush with its deserved respect.
Designed by Frankie Pappas architects, the underlying concept was to bridge the landscape between riverine forest and sandstone cliff, whilst raising the living space into the tree canopy, amongst the abundant arboreal life the building is organised as one long thin building which slots between the forest trees. the shapes of the additions to the central building are dictated by the position and size of the surrounding trees (not one tree was demolished during the construction of this home).
The building makes use of a very simple set of materials which all play their part in making the building part of its landscape, a rough stock brick which was selected to match the site’s weathered sandstone the ‘bridge’ portions of the building are constructed from sustainably-grown timbers, whilst glass and aluminium fill in the non-structural wall.
The clients are an senior couple, whose love and knowledge of the bush is extraordinary and inspiring every tree and bush and insect and bird and mammal is a personal friend of theirs they are enthusiastically involved in the environmental education of underprivileged youngsters from the surrounding areas opening up their farm to- and sharing their experience with these kids when asked why they are so involved, their answer is typically salt-of-and-down-to-earth: ‘there is too much beauty here for us to use up all by ourselves’.
The entire house is off-the-grid – completely and utterly water from the roofs is collected and filtered through the forest black- and greywater is stored and processed before being filtered by the undergrowth energy is harvested by solar panels but more important than this, is that the architecture works with its environment to create breeze and shade and comfort which allows it to have minimal energy demands.