Graaff-Reinet House
DMV Architecture - South Africa
Drawings, plans, elevations
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The exact age of the building is undetermined as the oldest recorded date of additions done were 1948 as per the local municipality’s records; however some historical narratives predate the original stone house to 1820. The original stone footprint has been added to on three separate occasions. Additional sleeping quarters were added to the North of the structure, this being the earliest addition and evident in the differing stone pointing. To this, more recent additions were added to include Kitchen/scullery space, a master bedroom and en-suite, central pergola structure and a contemporary braai pavilion which was the latest addition in 2013. The existing house did not allow for contemporary living, which the client required to suited to his young and vibrant family. It is evident that the additions done to the house, prior to this project, were badly considered and to the detriment of the original structure by adding no architectural value or beneficial flow to the house. The central courtyard, which had now been formed by the previous additions of the kitchen and main bedroom wings, further helped to devoid the house of any continuity. Through the proposed additions and alterations, the primary objective was to re-establish the flow of the house while at the same time try to provide an aesthetic to contrast the old and highlight the original structure both externally and internally. It is also important to note that the demolition of the external braai pavilion to the pool was considered, however due to the nature of its construction, did not make financial sense to do so. The overall design would have to incorporate this element. The stone structure, including the first addition to the North, in our view should be seen as the primary element that fronts the street as the original building block upon which the renovation should stem and feed off. The ‘un-considered’ flanking elements would be simplified, reduced in scale, house ancillary accommodation and form the building block upon which a new steel and glass element would rest. This new element would be an exact replication of the old in terms of footprint but positioned almost on a first floor level as a modern interpretation of the old. This would set up a new enclosed courtyard, a buffer between old and new, and form a cross-link between the wings that were constructed as part of the pre-dated unconsidered addition. The old house would then house the formal and guest suites to the house on entry, with the new addition providing a flexible informal layout. All salvaged yellow wood roof beams and Oregon pine floor boards and ceilings were re-used for flooring, bulkheads and some kitchen detail to bring these soft elements back into the new. We truly believe that the proposed additions and alterations will bring out the best of the existing and reinforce the style of the original House whilst providing a modern environment to live the required lifestyle of today.
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