Sunday, 26 January 2014



I am constantly looking for inspiration for my own little 'summer-house-project in South Africa' in a small town called Darling, just a 45 minute drive from Cape Town.  For those of you who follow me on Pinterest - you may have noticed my board:  plot 3604 weekend getaway
And you may also have noticed that my style often changes from traditional farm-house, barn-house to very minimal modernist Farnsworth-house like structures.  And that is just exactly where the (nice) problem lies  -  there is an open plot of land with hardly any restrictions.  My imagination is the only limit.  However, I want to build something that will be respectful to the local vernacular and compliment the neighbouring properties.

Lately I have fallen back on some initial ideas - a barn-like structure with a gabled roof, and some mezzanine/ loft sleeping areas.  I still would like to have an indoor courtyard, and think I have found a perfect solution.  I will share some of my latest sketches in the next few days. Any comments would be most appreciated and very welcome indeed.

Now.... on this note, I have found this almost perfect inspiration of a Swedish Summer House in Hamra.  I quote from thisispaper....

This beautifully simple summer house designed by Swedish architecture studio DinellJohansson is located in Hamra, Gotland, Sweden. Local tradition of stone houses resulted in using lightweight conctrete masonary blocks as the main material, but with focus on sustainability and minimalisation of waste. Unique furniture and clever use of space and dividers make this house one of a kind.

"The brief came out of the very limited budget: a house as simple as possible. Equally simple as the barn we wanted to convert to a summer dwelling, but which never showed up on the market: one open space with a large number of possible beds, cooking in the middle, washing facilities outside the house. Planing regulations ruled the placement of the house to the inner part of the plot which at the time of designing was still densly vegetated and scarcely accesible. Hence the house was designed with generic qualities, creating no front- or backside, treating all sides of the site equally. Four large openings 2,4x2m are placed according to rotational symmetry, one in each facade. Facing north is a fixed window, the other three are glazed doors. There is no hierarchy between the doors – anyone can be used as an entrance. Two roof windows add skylight to the interior.

The interior space is dominated by two plywood volumes which, in and above, offer space to play and to sleep. Around and between these volumes entrance, cooking, dining and living takes place. All serving functions are organized along a 90cm wide strip running through the house. All technical equipment and all water and drainage is located along this strip which limited the complexity of installation work. Spacial functions like stairs, storage, closets, bookshelf etc. are also located along the serving strip. In the middle there is the kitchen which consists of a 3,1mx0,9m concrete bench with an integrated fire-place. It is cast in situ and the cupboards are remaining parts of the cast. In this case the formwork plywood has been used for its actual purpose.

There is a surviving tradition of small-scale window manufacturing on Gotland which made it possible to try the unconventional sollution of windows mounted outside the walls which allowes them to open up 180degrees. With the windowframe flush to the nichewalls and the floor the opening appears from the inside as a clean undetailed hole in the wall. Opening up, the doors are held in place along the facade by a simple spring steel fitting.

Due to lack of timber in history, wooden construction which is favored elsewhere in Sweden, is not as dominant on the island of Gotland. Instead the local building tradition has resulted in simple plastered stone houses with few details.
For that reason the house was given a traditional building volume with plastered walls and with a 45degrees gable roof without gutters. The walls are built out of lightweight conctrete masonary blocks and the roof is cladded with corrugated Aluzink steel sheets, preferably used on farm buildings in the region. Measurements of the building volume and openings are chosen to fit the size of the masonary blocks so the waste of material could be minimized.."

Words: DinellJohansson, Thisispaper
Photography: Elisabeth Toll

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