Pared-back design in South Africa draws on natural ventilation & regional heritage
Kleinwingerd, meaning 'small vineyard', is an architect’s weekend house located on the edge of the agricultural town of Prince Alfred Hamlet, located in the Warmbokkeveld valley, a deciduous fruit growing area in South Africa.
The house is at the back of a rectangular plot to capitalise on mountain views beyond a peach orchard along the back boundary while ensuring privacy from the street. The street is further separated from the house by the vineyard as well as a double row of poplars, a phenomenon which is prevalent in the surrounding landscape in the form of wind breaks.
The design is a pragmatic and regionalist response to the climate and heritage of the area. The main accommodation in the long barn plan form - wine cellar / library, living room, and bedroom – are defined by two service bands which intersect the plan perpendicularly. These service bands contain the kitchen, entrance and store room, and ablution areas respectively. Partially walled courtyards to either side of the house anchor it into the landscape, creating semi-private outdoor spaces while evoking the traditional Cape Dutch 'werf' or yard wall.
Detailing and materials are simple and cost-effective, with paved floors, unplastered brickwork walls and plywood structural insulated panel ceilings. As the vineyard and trees around the house were already planted, materials were selected to minimise site disturbance and to facilitate ease of construction. Concrete and steel were used only for the foundations and ring beams, and the roof structure is composed solely of structural insulated panels and laminated beams.
Passive climate control strategies serve to negate the extremes of the highland climate, and include well insulated floors, walls and roofs; light shelves with north sun shading to provide ample daylight with limited summer heat gain; a pergola to provide sheltered outdoor space; as well as power saving strategies in the form of solar water heating and gas cooking. Timber clerestory windows provide high level cross ventilation while small windows set flush with the exterior wall - similar to traditional Cape Dutch architecture - frame selected vineyard, orchard and mountain views.