House Wolmarans

Breakwater Bay Eco Estate, Herolds Bay, Western Cape

The Site of House Wolmarans is located in Breakwater Bay Eco Estate, in the heart of the garden route near George in the Western Cape. On Approach the site opens up to the Indian Ocean and nestles itself in the Fynbos surrounding, iconic of the area.

The house is situated to the front of the plot away from the road and abuts a steep slope on two sides. The house responds to its location by inserting itself into the natural sloping landscape, moulding its mass and form to the contours of the site. Thus, the premise of the design was twofold. Firstly protection from the harsh southeasterly winds and allowing direct northern sunlight into spaces – it had to be comfortable in both summer and winter. Secondly, the dwelling had to take advantage of the vast ocean and fynbos views towards the south and west.

With these principles in mind, the positioning of walls revolved around a site driven concept. Each room was positioned to have magnificent views of the landscape through large strategically placed glass windows and doors. The floor plan was designed to take its cues from the site, resulting in a fragmented series of interconnected volumes with different heights and materials.
The house was divided into a split level – a ground floor level and a basement level. The basement level is primarily utilized for entertainment, housing a cinema and a wine cellar. From the wine cellar patio, one has a view of the ocean, and within a few steps from the door, brings you up close and personal with the fynbos landscape. The ground floor contains the main living area, bar lounge, northern living courtyard with boma, pool and 4 bedrooms en-suite. Due to the slope of the site and restrictions, the fragmented nature of the design lends itself to the creation of a central courtyard space. The buildings were positioned in such a manner to create a secluded northern courtyard, that forms a connection to the different spaces in the house, also opens up to the pool – which is located on a split southern axis to optimize on the views. The courtyard thus becomes a unifying element in the house – generating a wind-free sunny chill-out zone.

The transition between exterior and interior is gradual. Some concréte walls and soffits are visible inside and out, and its hardness contrasts with the wood, plaster, and stone used in different spaces. Also, the use of the same floor covering in the bar lounge, the northern courtyard, and the pool area creates the effect of continuity. The relationship between exterior and interior is a unifying element seen throughout the house.

Passive energy capture is enhanced by the material choice – concréte and slate roof, window layout, solar panel system, water storage tanks under the building and courtyard development. The northern and western facades were designed with finned beams & wooden slats to provide solar protection and control the amount of light entering the building.

In short, the project attempts to be sensitive and responsive to its location, while still creating a warm and sunny masterpiece, as requested by the client.


Coetzee | Alberts Architects Residential Projects: House Wolmarans

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