Otto Cottage
Simply Sustainable - Botswana
Drawings, plans, elevations
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A modern reinvention of traditional homestead this house is in two distinct parts. One speaks of solidity, permanence of being one with the earth, with rammed earth walls and a living roof! The other speaks of impermanence, the fluidity of life, observed through gaps between the timber slatted walls. Each space houses a sleeping, bathing and living space, decking linked, water, reflecting the trees and sky above separates the spaces. Comprising two distinct parts, a timber slatted en-suite bedroom and the main abode, a rammed earth living space with main bedroom en-suite. There are deep verandahs to the north optimised to provide deep shade during the hot summer months, as well as al fresco dining in the cooler evenings. The forms of the building derive from simple local forms . The small footprint was purposefully designed to be sufficient, comfortable and both culturally and ecologically appropriate. The house was hand built, without any machinery or factory made units, utilising traditional skills, such as creating the reed screens and ceilings, as well as upskilling local craftsman. Windows, and doors were manufactured on site, with unique locking mechanisms. The rammed earth was hand rammed and its beautiful textures and shades speak of the surrounding landscape and creates calm beautiful interiors. The construction method is sustainable, provides worthwhile employment, and carbon neutral. Integrated sustainable design created passive cooling, no waste construction (the rammed earth shutters were repurposed as a living roof),an ecologically sensitive sewerage system, and the house was off grid and water independent. The walls reflect the patterns in the landscape, strong horizontals reflect the flat landscape with subtle differences in tone! The building is the landscape, and is made of the land! Water surrounds the house on three sides combining function and reflection. A low window captures solar induced spray, creating evaporative cooling in a modern interpretation of a traditional African technique. The pool provides a safe (away from the hippos and crocodiles in the river) natural way to cool off further. The house is off grid with electricity from solar panels that sit on the verandah roof and these also power a water pump in the river that provides constant running water. Drinking water is filtered and an innovative sewerage system that uses natural processes and earthworms was designed and built. The North façade of the rammed earth building is constructed of large sliding doors alternatively constructed of timber slats or glass allowing one to completely control the inner lighting and shading. The doors allow one to take advantage of any breezes and assist in pulling air over the cooling ponds. Another reinvention of traditional outside, inside living. The living roof provides both a thick insulated barrier to the hot sun as well as replacing the habitat the house footprint displaced. Thick walls and a living roof are the most effective passive solar systems for hot climates.
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