Tag: Contemporary timber architecture

House Jouissance sits high on a hill in the Cape, overlooking the Sandvlei Estuary and False Bay.

Due to the very steep site the house was conceived as a series of staggered levels cascading down the site. Whereas in modernism the floor plan was seen as the ‘generator’, ie one first got the plan right and everything else followed from that, often in contemporary architecture the section is the ‘generator’ ”. And it certainly was for this project. Even though it is relatively small in area it has 4 different levels internally – each connected to the next by half a flight of stairs, so one never really feels like you a moving from one storey to a separate up or down storey like in a typical double storey home. The floor to ceiling heights in each section are also vastly different; for example using volume rather than floor space to achieve a sense of spaciousness in the living area, whereas the kitchen and bedroom above have low ceilings, but retain a sense of spaciousness by being open to the living area large volume. So varying volumes contribute to the spacial quality more so than the plan layout.

Sustainability features include a dry composting toilet, solar water heating, a large rammed earth wall, double glazing, highly insulated timber frame walls and grey water irrigation.

The structure is a hybrid of materials, each selected for best fit for purpose. A structural steel frame allowed for minimal excavation and disturbance to the very steep site, allowing for the house to really ‘touch the earth lightly’. Lightweight timber frame walls intergrate best with the steel structural frame and allow for highly insulated walls. The rammed earth wall provides thermal mass and serves to moderate internal temperatures. Conventional concrete and brickwork were used minimally, being utilised only for the bathroom floor on the lower level and , in combination with a rib & block slab, for the garage structure.

Provision has been made for a planted green roof, which will be planted at a later stage.


Henton Homes


Poise Consulting Engineers


Earthworks Magazine December 2016 House Jouissance


Site Plan

Living Level

Bedroom Level




The Chiveve River Park is situated in the city of Beira in Mozambique.

The engineering firm CES are the main consultants on the project, to whom we were appointed as sub-consultants to provide architectural services for the Restaurant & Events Building, as well as the Botanical Gardens Buildings, with the park.The masterplan for the park layout was developed by Earthworks Landscape Architects.

Our design for the proposed Stellenbosch Agricultural School consist of a loose arrangement of classrooms,  school administration buildings and dormitories around an open courtyard area.


Contractor: MG Projects

The site is north facing so the house is perfectly orientated to north. Due to the lack of available services on the site the client opted for a totally of grid house. PV panels provide electricity with a backup generator. Water is extracted from a borehole and there is a biolytical sewerage treatment system.

The house is super insulated with double glazing throughout to minimize any load on the PV system in terms of heating or cooling requirements


Technology in Architecture & Design magazine July / August 2012    TIMBER_FEATURE TIA 2012