Inner peace

PHOTOS Angela Buckland WORDS Alma Viviers

Lees in Afrikaans.

Perched on a windswept dune, this East London holiday home by DesignWorkshop:SA wraps itself around a tranquil courtyard.

The wisdom of courtyard houses in harsh climes has long been recognised the world over, from the cool inner sanctuaries of Islamic architecture to traditional Mexican haciendas.

This was also Designworkshop:SA’s response when they were asked to create a beach house for a client based in the United Kingdom.

Architect Janina Masojada explains that, because holiday homes express our more relaxed mode of being, they are often more open, social environments.

The Igoda house certainly reflects this, as three self-sufficient blocks are arranged around a courtyard that “creates a communal and circulation area between the different wings where everyone meets from the private places”.

Connected with the surroundings

Filled with indigenous trees and lanterns that lend an exotic ambience, this space also serves another function. “It is a protected haven from the sometimes fierce sea wind.” Despite this arrangement, the house does not turn in on itself and carefully framed views create a visual connection with the surroundings.

“Each wing focuses on a different aspect of the site, highlighting the range of experiences and natural conditions,” says Janina. “The main living and bedroom wing looks straight down the long expanse of unspoilt beach over the Igoda River mouth, while the opposite wing’s bedroom faces onto the thick dune bush and the sea beyond.”

The architects also responded to the environment through their choice of a restrained palette of materials and finishes. In reference to the Eastern Cape’s local architecture, they opted for unpretentious white-bagged brickwork, off-shutter concrete and rough common-brick walls.

Attention to detail

This balance between simplicity and attention to detail is carried through to the interior, where reused Oregon pine, salvaged from a derelict warehouse, forms the dominant structure and finish.

Designworkshop:SA added to the house’s green credentials by applying principles of passive climate control through orientation, overhangs and natural ventilation. Rainwateris also stored in tanks in the basement to be used to service the house and irrigate the garden.

Janina says sustainability is not merely a “nice-to-have” or afterthought. “It is standard in our design response and is quite simply good architectural practice.”

In an era of flashy houses and constant attempts at the iconic and monumental, this house achieves its architectural impact quietlyby relying on spatial relationships rather thancomplex forms and on responsive design rather than a signature style.

Designworkshop:SA 031 303 5191,

First published in VISI 51. See more of our favourite beach houses online and buy the Endless Summer edition of VISI for the ultimate beach house collection.