Return to Eden

THERE WERE TWO NON-NEGOTIABLES IN THE CLIENT BRIEF:

1) respect the land, and 2) ensure that the house is elegant and small.

It’s not difficult to see why – the parcel of earth the residence was built on is pristinely beautiful. “The farm is situated near Plettenberg Bay, on a large portion of land filled with indigenous forest, with rivers running through it and a view of the Tsitsikamma Mountains,” says architect Paul Oosthuizen, giving context to his client’s instructions. “There was one patch of invasive wattle on the land, which was cleared – this became the area we developed.”

To find the perfect spot on which to build, Paul surveyed the sloped piece of land by climbing some of the tall trees on its periphery, then decided on the bottom of the hill, so the house could be nestled into the forest and give his client a view of the riverbed. Next up, Simon Hart and his team at No Fuss Construction brought Paul’s vision to life. The result is a home that feels intimately connected to its woodsy surroundings, and secluded from the world beyond. In fact, reaching it is a pursuit that requires visitors to make the last 60-metre journey on foot. “As you approach, you drive along a road that’s right up against the forest to your left,” says Paul. “You then park in a garage that’s buried underground, get out, and walk along a boardwalk that goes through a canopy of trees, about eight metres off the ground, before you arrive in the courtyard. It offers the guests the sense that they’ve ‘discovered’ a house in the middle of a forest.”

Paul describes the level at which guests enter the two-bedroom home as organic and amorphous, with the space culminating in a curved window that lines up perfectly with Formosa Peak to the northeast. “The curved and splayed lines of the layout create a dynamic tension,” says Paul. “If a space is square, your mind recognises it and doesn’t think about it again; if it’s slightly offset, like here, your mind keeps trying to map it, but can’t.

I think that’s one of the reasons why we as humans like to be in nature. Our mind is constantly stimulated because we can’t map what we’re seeing.”

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From Green to Blue

VISI Paul Oosthuizen Plettenberg Bay

“You know, I’ve been practising Tai Chi for 30 years, and in it, we say, ‘Stand like a mountain, flow like a river,’” says architect Paul Oosthuizen.

Yes, he’s passionate about the Chinese martial art, but in this particular instance, he’s using the Tai Chi principle to illustrate his motivation behind the design of a very special beachfront property.

Receding into a thicket of milkwood trees on a rocky outcrop that runs down into the Keurbooms estuary in Plettenberg Bay, the house in question is undeniably sculptural, with an interplay of curved and angular lines, and the raw materiality of a concrete finish.

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In conversation with Paul Oosthuizen, Architect

In conversation with Paul Oosthuizen, Architect

In contemplating the facts that most of our lives are spent amongst our built environment; that the environment where we live, dream and grow has a fundamental impact on our character, mood and emotions; that our mood and emotions govern our lives, as individuals, families and larger communities, BBR sought out the proponent of these insights, Plett architect Paul Oosthuizen, and discovered that there is much more to concept and design of our homes than pencils and paper or CAD.

Philosophy, that of the architect and your own, is at the foundation of your new home, which determines just how the bricks and mortar take shape and influence your world.

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