Dullstroom Weekend Home

WORDS Mila Crewe-Brown PRODUCTION Annemarie Meintjes PHOTOS Dook

The Fall – an unusual weekend home near Dullstroom, designed by architect Paul Oosthuizen, shows a sensitive yet bold approach to design.

There’s a defining principle in modern architecture called “truth to materials”. Its aim is to celebrate the intrinsic qualities of a material without corruption, laying bare character and construction. The Fall, a week­end home outside Dullstroom, pays homage to this notion with its audacious use of concrete and its bare­bones appeal.

“A shelter that sits crouched, backed up against the steep hill,” is how architect Paul Oosthuizen describes it. He says “shelter” as a throwback to his time spent studying the site, in awe of the thunderous water crashing into the gorge. The house was to be a refuge in direct conversation with the waterfall. “The hexahedron formation of the rock, eroded with soft edges, became a compelling navigator. I extruded these shapes out of the land; strung together like a spine, they became alive.”

“I did a double take when Paul showed us his initial drawings,” says owner Anthony Hare. He and his wife Robyn have since fallen in love with the house, which has stirred mixed reactions in the Dullstroom community. The farm has been in Anthony’s family since the 1960s and is now planted with 3 hectares of cherries. “I grew up here as a young boy on fishing trips,” he recalls nostalgically. His yearn­ing to create something exceptional on the same land has nagged for years.

The Fall is a Futuristic Dullstroom Weekend Home by Architect Paul Oosthuizen
Generous glazing and clerestory windows facing north make the most of sunlight and offer intimate views of the climbing slope and woodland.

Perched on a hillside, the structure pro­jects into the wide open, presenting the viewer with a dramatic sequence of glass­ fronted pods sculpted from raw concrete and anchored to the slope by hefty supports. Deon Botes from Poise Consulting Engineers was involved in the construction. “There is more concrete below ground than above,” says Paul. Facing south, the house is shouldered by the waterfall to the west and backed by a copse of bladdernut, dogwood and Natal bottlebrush trees, and its outlook extends across a gentle green landscape stretching to the horizon.

The home’s long approach on foot is an exercise in conscious immersion. Roughly 300 m of decked pathway parts the surround­ing grassland, passes two guest suites and leads you up to the entrance in a considered manner. Upon entering your eye is drawn by a glass box at the far end of the lounge that is suspended over the plunging gradient, staring the waterfall in the face.

Thanks to the pared ­down interior and finishes such as off-­shutter concrete walls that bear the marks of their making, there’s little to distract from the scenic beauty. Wooden doors bring a dose of warmth to the bedrooms and zinc cladding is used externally to comple­ment the concrete.

Over a long weekend you might find Robyn in the library and Anthony on a trout­ fishing jaunt with their sons. Time out spent far from the city is what it’s all about here.

Theirs is a home that hides little, bringing to mind art critic John Ruskin’s reference to “honest and unpretending architecture”. Paul has created a building that speaks to nature in more ways than many brick­ and­ mortar houses ever could, connecting the architecture to its site with integrity.

Looking for more architectural inspiration? Take a look at this modern Plettenberg Bay home designed by Paul.