The Swellendam House is a contemporary home in the valleys of Langeberg Mountains, South Africa, designed by GASS Architecture. Due to the pristine surrounding natural landscape, the architectural intervention had to be non intrusive and also to blend in. According to the architects, “the residence was built “using largely local textures and materials reminiscent of its distinctly Southern African origins. In addition to the architecture itself, efforts were made to make the house and the land itself more sustainable. All the water used in the house is harvested from the site itself, and as a result there is no connection to the municipal water supply line, making the house self-sustaining from a water perspective“. The structure of the project is simple and practical. The residence is composed of three volumes: the largest accommodates the public areas, while the smaller boxes include the bedrooms, bathrooms and a movie room.
Energy during the construction process was saved by using FSC-certified glulam timber instead of steel to create the building’s distinctive wavy roof, while the store’s external walls use hemclad, a highly innovative insulator made from hemp, which, like all plants, absorbs CO2 from the atmosphere as it grows. An 80,000 litre water tank below ground provides water for the store’s toilets and waters the site’s green wall’, which provides natural insulation, acts as an all-natural pollution filter near the car park, and helps to encourage biodiversity. The result is a building that uses a fraction of the energy of structures of a similar size, and is still very popular with local shoppers.
The best architects can create designs which will give clients and the public things they didn’t even realise they wanted, and this is especially important when architects are given the difficult brief of creating structures in much-loved, iconic areas.