PHOTOS Richard Stretton, Ross Charnock WORDS Malibongwe Tyilo
That the Hopewell Conservation Estate, a nature reserve on the edge of Port Elizabeth, is home to an elegant eco-friendly, award-winning building, should be a clue to its ground-breaking vision. For, sprinkled throughout its 3 000 hectares of untouched fauna and flora are residential plots for the genuine nature-loving investor.
A range of strictly green residences has been designed by architect Richard Stretton from Koop Design. Insight into the environmental rigour Richard has invested in the designs is evident in his first completed building on the estate, the Hopewell visitors’ centre, winner of an Eastern Cape Institute of Architects Award of Merit.
The small building serves as an orientation point for visitors, and includes a lobby, kitchen, admin area, presentation space and bathrooms. Built on the ruins of a farm cottage, the need for site works was minimised. The stone from the ruins was also reused, in conjunction with lightweight timber and a steel frame. For its red earth-colour floors, site soil was mixed with cement resulting in what looks like a refined version of the ground.
The light environmental footprint wins over our hearts. And the fact that it has been shortlisted for the Corobrik South African Institute of Architects Awards of Merit and for Excellence, is just the cherry on top.