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Design Philosophy

The primary factors informing the design process are the unique requirements of each client and site. The client is taken through an interview process, so that by determining lifestyle, habits and preferences they can be presented with preliminary concepts that respond directly to an interpretation of their needs and wishes. A house is viewed as a series of spaces for living in both in terms of static places for relaxing and resting, and in terms of the choreography of movement through spaces for daily living as well as entertaining.

Each site has its on requirements in terms of views, orientation, topography, access and micro- climate. In many areas winter and summer seasons have greatly differing prevailing winds, calling for design solutions that must anticipate different seasonal utilisation of the house. Views and north orientation, often conflicting, are carefully considered to provide optimum views and natural lighting.

The choice of using timber as the primary structural and often visible material, is largely a personal one, while equally rooted in many practical advantages, including that of being a truly sustainable material. Timbers warmth and tactile qualities provide a welcoming homeliness and closeness to nature. Structurally it has it’s own form of expression, in that it’s structural qualities can inform and provide a logical clarity to the design.

‘Commonsense’ principles such as maximising summer shading and penetration of low winter sunlight, providing place for the unobtrusive positioning of watertanks, positions for placement of solar panels early in the design stage, and aesthetically unobtrusive means of providing security (by means of sliding shutters for example) where required, are all considered during the design process.

Design and form emerges, along with the interpretation of the requirements of the client, the site, and responsibilities in terms of sustainability, from the influence of the designers own ideals and aims.
These naturally evolve and are re-evaluated over time, but at present, ’Jacques Cronje Timber Design’ can state its design ideals as:

commitment: with an awareness of the relative permanence of buildings in an otherwise transient world, approach each design task with the thoroughness that it deserves.

resonance: with place and nature, in terms of form and materials used, textures and lighting.

essentials: prioritise the ‘essentials’ in the design – coherent volumes and forms, open space living, connection to outside, and natural light.

adaptability: In recognition of permanence vs transition allow for multiple use of areas and adaptability of spaces as the needs of the occupants change.

truthfulness to materials: seeking to use and combine materials for their best use and allowing them to reveal themselves as such; wood as wood, brickwork as brickwork….expressing their natural and tactile qualities and finishes

future proofing: anticipating possible future requirements and making allowance for this in the design – for example if the budget doesn’t allow for solar PV panels, its still a good idea plan for where these, the inverter and batteries would be placed in future if required, and build in the necessary conduits to allow for an hassle free installation at a later date.


There are several options as to how we can assist you with architectural services for your new home.

1. Pre Property-Purchase Consultation
If you have not yet purchased your property but are keen to build some time in the future, have a shortlist of properties in mind and are just wanting advise to get started, then this is a good starting point. This includes a needs analysis, a basic feasibility and assistance with the selection of a suitable property from a shortlist of up to 3 properties in the same area. Our fee for this is a flat rate fee of R 5000.00

2. Project Appraisal and Concept 

The Project Appraisal and Concept is offered as a low-commitment fixed price alternative to appointing us to provide the full architectural service. It is ideal for clients who already own the property they wish to develop, but are still uncertain of what or when they want to build, or want to know what they could build for their budget. It consists of Stages 1 (Inception) and Stage 2 (Concept and Viability) of the Standard Architectural Service. This will provide you with a concept design with plans, elevations and 3D perspectives as well as estimated project costs for your budgeting purposes. See this as the second step (after having purchased your property) on the road towards building your new home. Its a standalone service and you are free to use us, or any other architect to draughtsman of your choice, to continue the process to Local Authority plan approvals and construction documentation once you are ready to proceed further.

3. Standard Architectural Service

If you’ve bought your property and wanting to start building within a year or two, this is the service you’ll require. We offer a full service from concept to completion / handover of keys, or you can select a partial service. Refer our Guide to the Architectural Design and Building Process Document for the various architectural stages and scope of work.

4. Partial Service to Stage 4.1 of the Standard Architectural Service 

There are several accomplished specialist timber builders who refer their clients to us for this service. With these projects, the specialist builder typically has standard details, processes and standards to which they work, and we design accordingly to suit their specific system.  As the contractor has been pre-selected we forego the tender process, and as they typically provide a turnkey service including project management we also forego our contract administration service, both of which result in a reduce architectural fee to the client. If you are a specialist timber builder please contact us for more information on this service.

Additional services include:

  • Project Management
  • Specialist timber design consulting
  • Modular and pre-fab building systems 
  • Product design – see our product design website minima

For more information and to get a fee estimate for your project please email us at or use the contact form.


Buildings are collectively one of the largest consumers of world energy resources. In present times of global warming and changing weather patterns, sustainability, and more specifically, sustainable building, is fast progressing from a buzzword to a necessity and we are increasingly called upon to make carefully considered environmentally friendly choices in terms of what we consume and what carbon footprint we leave behind. Of the various raw materials to choose from for building, timber has by far the lowest embodied energy, and if grown in a sustainably managed plantation, is a truly renewable building resource. Global debate over sustainable management of forests and the dangers of deforestation, has led to the development of forest management certification, ensuring that timber from plantations is harvested sustainably.

Energy Efficiency can be achieved by solar-passive design, which maximises natural heating, cooling and ventilation, as well as using sufficient insulation. In areas of high diurnal temperature fluctuation (warm days & cold nights) passive design uses elements of high mass to store heat gained from direct sunlight during the day to release at night, in combination with highly insulated walls. In coastal areas with lower diurnal fluctuation and higher humidity, the use of shading and natural ventilation keeps the building cool, while highly insulated walls and ceilings reduce the energy utilised by artificial heating in the winter months. Active solar interventions such as the utilisation of a solar water heating system further reduce energy consumption, and result in financial savings in the long run. 

While it can be quite costly initially (in financial terms, not ecological terms) to do every thing as energy efficient as possible, we can guide you through the process of selecting materials and options which best suit your pocket and the environment as well as look at long term expenses/cost benefits (life cycle feasibility) of using sustainable options such as solar water heating.

Timber as a building material serves to reduce carbon in the atmosphere. The carbon cycle in the life cycle of a tree is such that during the growth and life of a tree carbon is absorbed out of the atmosphere, and when a tree burnt as fuel or left to decay the same amount of carbon is again released into the atmosphere. In this cycle a tree can be said to be carbon neutral, or a temporary store of carbon. If, however, the tree is harvested for use as a building material, the timber utilised remains a store of carbon for the duration of the life of the building, therefore reducing the amount returned to the atmosphere. Timber harvested from well-managed plantations are also the only truly renewable building material, and have the lowest embodied energy (total energy used in the production of the building material) when compared to more conventional materials such as clay bricks and concrete.