New Residential Property

  • New residential property on the Little Walmer Golf Estate, Walmer, Port Elizabeth.

    WINNER: Eastern Cape Institute of Architects 2013 Regional Award for Architecture                                                 Ecia Logo

  • Client: Private
    Architects: John Rushmere and Architects in collaboration with The Workplace Architects
    Engineers: Dubber and Associates
    Contractors: Client managed various independent contractors
    Location of Project: Plot 61, Little Walmer Golf Estate, Walmer, Port Elizabeth, Eastern Cape
    Date of Completion: 2010

Plot 61 Little Walmer Golf Estate

The building is aligned north-west (road entry) to south east (golf fairway) with the preferred aspect and prospect to the north east over a cul-de-sac.

The client expressed a liking for Onion Row, a previous project by John Rushmere, specifically the sense of space (volume), the spatial flow and the light. The view from the Schoeman’s house overlooking the pond in front of the 6th tee was stressed, and a study, a music room, a studio, a cellar and a lift were added to the accommodation schedule. The study (above the braai), the lift, a second hearth, finishing the cellar and other details are still to happen.

Planning guidelines on the estate had deliberately omitted restrictive building lines except in relation to the golf course. This was done to avoid ‘left over’ alleys and boundary walls and to promote positive outdoor spaces and courtyards framed by neighbouring buildings. Unfortunately this invitation has been generally ignored in favour of the suburban ‘island’ approach – not so the Schoeman House.

The long, narrow site, its orientation to the north east and the south winds all determined that the building align its ‘back’ along the south west boundary, avoiding unusable left over space and prying windows to the south west neighbours. Instead there is a blank ‘canvas’ for the neighbours to exploit whether it is by building or planting or both. Crucially, they are also guaranteed privacy. Perhaps most importantly, light, space, privacy and protected outdoor living for the Schoemans is maximised.
Private places (sleeping, bathing, cooking, and music) are assembled to form four, independent ‘mini buildings’. They are arranged for their own advantage and, importantly, to define and shape a public ‘hall’ that is the central celebratory space. It has height, position and an outside place that acknowledges our southern latitude properly. It links and balances ‘private’ and ‘public’, up and down, in and out and across – in other words, it has journeys leading to it and through it. It is, rightly, the heart.

The ‘hall’ is raw, allowing brick and timber to underline its openness and the robust nature of its human interplay. The mini-blocks are intimate and discreet (there is even a bridge to the main bedroom, private sanctum) and smooth and refined as befits their own nature. The owner’s existing furniture has found its places and they have begun to create a landscape that extends inside to outside. It is a work in progress.

Finally, the building will remain incomplete until a neighbour with imagination and vision takes note of the invitation implicit in the undecorated wall to the south boundary, to claim ownership of it.

Text by John Rushmere