Elemental House

Architecture Coop

Elemental House is located in the coastal town of Betty’s Bay an hour from Cape Town on a pristine vegetated dune overlooking the Indian Ocean. The home is an example of how careful consideration of the environmental conditions & design tailored to suit the locality can create comfortable place to live despite harsh coastal conditions.

The residence is modest and conservative in character and scale adopting a subservient role to the impressive surroundings. Perched lightly on a dune the linear form runs East West with uninterrupted views toward the sea on the South and Mountain views to the North.

The metal sheet roof has a slight curved which gently reflects light and thereby minimizing the visual impact to properties behind and higher up. The steel roof structure around roof edges is exposed giving the house a skeletal appearance. Roof edges are slim and exposed. There are no heavy facia to hide poor workmanship behind. The architect rather chooses to highlight the tectonics of the architecture. Large glazing elements further highlight the structural frame while allowing views through the house from the North and onto the Atlantic.

The North veranda, which sits in the wind shadow as strong winds blow off the ocean from the South) opens onto the dunes while overhead the roof breaks down, increasing the viewing plane upwards in acknowledgement of the majestic mountain ridge. The roof structure extends to receive a slatted canopy of solar fins which have been angled carefully to shade the house in summer and allow the low winter sunlight to penetrate.

The light and airy open plan living spaces are located centrally in the linear form bookended by solid forms which house the bedrooms. The house sits calmly present, part of the landscape. The slatted roof & shutters give the house a fine texture & delicacy, creating dappled light to soften the building form and integrate it into the landscape.

In an architectural climate where technology and elaborate new materials have become detrimental and distractive, the consciousness of approach combined with the tectonic celebration of structure and detailing is a reminder of what can be achieved with a humble palette and good design.

Architect:Architecture Co-op Justin Cooke, Rupert Jordi

Quantity Surveyor:Shevel & Simpson Quantity Surveyors – Alastair Simpson

Structural Engineer:de Villiers Sheard – Garry Sheard, Alex Rousseau

Land Surveyor:Town & Country – Frank Truter

Contractor:Quali-Projects – Martin & Therese Helmbold