Text Graham Wood Photographs Greg Cox / Bureaux Production Jeanne Botes
In the Cape winelands of South Africa, this house takes references from traditional Cape Dutch architecture and creates a contemporary new order… with a vineyard and a gin garden.
Franschhoek is known for some of the most beautiful winelands and valleys in the world. With a strong French heritage dating back more than 300 years, new homes often mimic Provençal and sometimes Italian influences.
The owner of this winelands home wanted a chic, contemporary take on traditional Franschhoek architecture, and had a clear vision and comprehensive brief for the architect, Martin Kruger. It’s very much a working house – made for entertaining, relaxing and appreciating nature. “The vision was driven very much by the way I like to live,” says the owner. “I love having friends to stay, cooking together and listening to great music, but I also appreciate the tranquillity of the village and the calm of this beautiful art-filled space.”
The owner had, as she puts it, “kissed a lot of frogs” in her long search to find this idyllic spot, not far from the village. It was a pear orchard – hence the name “Le Poirier”, the place of pears, with a stream running through it, mature oak trees and incredible mountain views.
She was very clear that she wanted a design in which “architecture, interiors and landscape design were completely integrated”. She had a vision of a house surrounded by gardens, vines, veggies, fruit and olive trees and fragrant fynbos, all to be reflected in the choice of art and interior palettes, too. She was after a sense of “connectedness” with the environment.
It’s evident that architect and client were on the same page with the project from the start. The design went through a thorough design process, and the result is a building where the house fits seamlessly into the cultural landscape and architectural traditions of Franschhoek.
The house has two personalities – the south-facing entrance references a Cape Dutch manor house, wrapped around a farmyard or “werf” with a vineyard. From here the house has “a Cape vernacular quality”, albeit a sleek-lined contemporary take. “Then, to the other side, facing the river, it opens up so that you can see the view of the mountain, which is quite spectacular,” says Martin.
The riverside of the house has a more modernist, industrial design language, reflecting some of the cues from the owner’s time living in New York, although continuing its dialogue with Cape Dutch architecture in other ways.