Farm dwellings in the Karoo

Sean asks Jonno to sketch a design of five dwellings surrounding his farm in the Karoo. Read on to see Jonno’s designs.

Farm dwellings in the Karoo
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Dear Jonno
As I mentioned to you during our phone call, we need your help. We would like to build five dwellings that blend in with the natural surroundings of our farm, which is in an eco-reserve in the Karoo. The climate here is very dry and hot, so the walls of the house should be thick and the roof designed in such a way that during summer it is cool inside, while in winter it is warm – pretty much like the Karoo houses of old, I presume.

Ideally, to take advantage of the views, one should be able to open up the living spaces with sliding doors or shutters, perhaps. The prevailing winds are up and down the river, which is north and south. There is an abundance of rocks for building material, and sand and water are available. All we need is cement and wood. We will be off the grid, so this should be factored in.

The living areas should have a fireplace, and be open-plan and free-flowing. We are thinking of a single storey with three bedrooms and an option to add a fourth, if required. All bedrooms must have en suite bathrooms, with some kind of skylight so one can see the stars. Finally, if possible, we would like the house to have a deck at the front overlooking the river.
Please feel free to contact me with queries.

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All the best,

Greetings Sean
Thanks for your brief on the house units you want to build. Here is a first impression of a home that would suit the environment and also be appealing to prospective clients. The rock work is fuller at plinth level and more random on the walling. The spaces between the random rock work could be rough-cast pigmented sandy colours. Provided you don’t get any hail, the skylights would be a fantastic feature. I have also designed a glassed roof over the main en suite bathroom.

With this traditional Western Cape ‘H’ layout, the house can be phase-built. I suggest that the complete floor slab be thrown initially. The space of bedrooms three and four could be a carport area in the meantime. The back veranda is optional but could be an alternative outdoor area, in case the wind or sun makes the front veranda unsuitable. The roofing material will be grey or black fibre-cement slate tiles.

Let me know what you think of this sketch so far. I had a look at your resort on the web; it is really beautiful, especially the river area.

Best regards,