CIfA 2019 Award for Architecture: Lagoon House – Open City Architects


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Situated on a steeply sloped site the building overlooks the Langebaan Lagoon. Here the architect, working with an incredible natural setting while dealing with scheme design controls and regulations has created an idyllic and quaint holiday home.

Two slender courtyards are created to the north allowing light into the living spaces and providing easy access to outside spaces. When entering the house, the lagoon is momentarily veiled as one descends down from the street into the entranceway. The timber ramped floor hastened one’s step before the tall narrow volume of the living space reveals a framed view of the turquoise lagoon water, dune and sky, evoking memories of entering Gawie Fagan’s Die Es. This main space contains the kitchen, dining room and lounge.

Thick walls create wide cills of openings lending themselves as furniture and rendering the space to minimalist ideals. Adjacent to the main space is an upper floor terrace where the panoramic view of the lagoon comes into view. Private spaces are located on a lower level around a common space linked to the lower level courtyard.

White walls with rustic materials reference Cape and Mediterranean vernacular architecture. The detailing around the frameless doors and selection of floor coverings on the terrace is less robust detracting slightly from it timelessness but nevertheless does not depreciate its sense of place. The best qualities are contained in its modesty. It is unimposing, carefully designed and crafted without undue attention to itself and should be regarded as an accomplishment by any architect.

The profession needs more practitioners that display this much care at shaping the built environment.

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