A HOUSE NAMED VELDHUIS
We fell in love with Betty’s Bay twice. The
first time was in 2003, when we bought
a plot and Raymond designed a house
reminiscent of a farmhouse by the sea. The
initial idea was to negotiate work and play between Cape Town and Betty’s Bay, but we never reckoned with the way in which this place would settle under our skins.
In time, and with Raymond having evolved his architectural philosophy
towards design within the broader built environment context, we bought
a second piece of land, this time exchanging sea views for a green belt.
The building foundation was laid during the winter of 2015. I was the
neurotic partner of a man well seasoned in the trials and tribulations of the
design and construction process. Raymond kept the boat afloat, and before
Christmas of that year we were able to welcome back creatures who’d
found shelter in our previous garden.
Raymond believes a successful building should embody a sense of its
purpose, place and tectonics. In this instance, the design drivers were as
follows: low maintenance, grid-supported self-reliance in terms of water
and energy, wheelchair-friendly, security-wise and within our budget.
The house has a quiet, unpretentious aesthetic; it is reminiscent of
veldhuise, worker cottages that used to be a feature on the edge of South
African towns. Built in the form of two barns, it is anchored on a soilraft
foundation level with the fynbos and parallel to a stream that forms
a boundary with Brodie Link Nature Reserve, integrating the structure
with the landscape.
The exterior walls have four types of finishes: splatter-dash concrete,
Zincalume roof cladding, pine shiplap cladding and red brick. Inside, the
clay-brick walls are variously sealed, bagged, painted and washed. The
floors are cement concrete and treated South African pine.
Light filters through the house like patterns in a kaleidoscope. Our
furniture is eclectic – some items we bought, some we swapped and others
we inherited. We have a soft spot for odd chairs, like a jacaranda riempie
chair carved by an ancestor who was a prisoner of war on the island of
The garden is indigenous and water-wise, with species such as
agapanthus, aloes and proteas ensuring seasonal food for the birds. The
blossoming of the keurbome in the four corners of the garden is heralded
by bumblebees and sunbirds. On the east side we have established two
greenhouses and in the process discovered that carrots and strawberries
thrive in the nutrient-poor, acidic sand.
On a Saturday afternoon, two years since we moved into Veldhuis, as
I’m writing this and Raymond is deciphering hieroglyphs in preparation
for a conference in Egypt, I look up from the computer screen and see
the sandstone cliff face of Voorberg, part of the Kogelberg range. A slight
north-westerly wind, our winter wind, is moving through the leaves of
a water-berry tree. Birds have already carried the deep-purple fruit to their nests.
Interspersed with images from Lien’s portfolio are works by artists such as Cornelia Stoop, Cobus van Bosch, Barbara Wildenboer, Bonolo Kavula, Karlien de Villiers, Vulindlela Nyoni, Liza Grobler, Mandla Vanyaza, Juria le Roux, Brahm van Zyl and Luan Nel.
The built form of the house, with reference to the cranked roof ridge line, was inspired by the topography of Klein-Hangklip mountain, being the field view on the north-west axis.