An environmental response

House of calm on a windswept promontory sitting on the promontory of this windswept dune and rock peninsula in the Western Cape, South Africa, a modern dwelling that maximises views of the ocean and mountains was erected several years ago. Jenny Mills Architects were challenged by this Atlantic Ocean house design and were briefed to adopt a starkly exposed glass box to a tranquil private home.
It needed to feel ‘grounded’ in order to induce the warm, earthy feel the client required. This meant the building was overhauled to create an enduring structure with minimal needs for preservation. The house redesign was to respond to the landscape, so the owners’ experience of the home and scenery was carefully considered, not only with regard to views, but opportunities for shelter, privacy, and protection from the elements. The redesign process had the building adapt to the many characteristics of the location. This was so that the views and experiences of the natural environment could be enjoyed in the different ways and scales as they occur.
Detailed observations of nature on the terrain have informed the new house design. In the newly established courtyard spaces and wind-sheltered zones, hardy dune plants and trees are taking root and growing. There is a softening to the rugged beauty. Attracting smaller birds and wildlife, we have designed a retreat for both the house inhabitants and the outdoor inhabitants.
For both clients and designers, it has been an important journey in recognising the significance of observing micro-climate and different moods associated with the immediate landscape as well as the distant views.

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