About the Project:
ATKINSON COTTAGE IN WALMER, GQEBERHA COMPLETED SEPT 2022 Architect: SPACE+FIELD Engineer: Structural Solutions Contractors: Mullins Construction Green Building Consultants: Sow & Reap Back in 2019, my parents and I started exploring the idea of co-habitation, of pooling resources and finding a way to live closer to each other that could be mutually beneficial as they…
ATKINSON COTTAGE IN WALMER, GQEBERHA
COMPLETED SEPT 2022
Engineer: Structural Solutions
Contractors: Mullins Construction
Green Building Consultants: Sow & Reap
Back in 2019, my parents and I started exploring the idea of co-habitation, of pooling resources and finding a way to live closer to each other that could be mutually beneficial as they neared old age and retirement and I battled to balance work, life and motherhood. We placed my CT home on the market and began the process of subdividing their large property in the Walmer, PE. The idea was to find a rural property with two dwellings on the Garden Route to share.
And then, along rolled 2020 and everything was weirdly suspended for a while. Just prior to hard lockdown, my family and I travelled from CT to PE thinking that we would spend the next three or four weeks in my parents’ 100-year-old home, sharing in meals, homeschooling and work with space for the kids to play and comfort for us all. It was during this crazy time, with five adults and four children in one big home, that we realised my parents’ property, my childhood home, had everything that we were looking for, except the second home, and that the Eastern Cape is a wonderful place to raise children.
On the land that was already in the process of being subdivided was a large outbuilding; it was built in the 1960s and consisted of a double garage, workshop, laundry and domestic worker’s room. And it was here that I saw the potential for conversion to a new cottage for my family.
Inspired by the little wood-and-iron cottages that were common to this part of Walmer, I explored how the existing footprint of the outbuilding could be converted to a comfortable, beautiful and modern interpretation of the cottage that was in keeping with the old ‘farmhouse’ already on the property.
The result is a three-bedroom, two-bathroom home with a loft studio workspace for me and my two daughters. We share the expansive garden with my dad, my mom and her sister and benefit hugely from being so close to each other.
Principles that informed the design include:
Less is more and by this I mean that we really do not need such big homes if they are designed well. I will choose smaller with higher quality design over and over. Less to furnish, less to buy, less to clean, less to maintain, less to worry about, less debt, less stress, less clutter for more love, more togetherness, more time, more happiness.
Choose well and make it last. Choose the best quality that you can afford, minimising the churn of trendy decor and therefore waste. Use real discernment in what you make room for in your space. Consider how your choices impact the environment and the principles mentioned above in terms of reduction of waste, making your resources really work hard for you, and smaller homes all link to this.
Waste is a resource. From the sourcing of many treasures, vintage or second-hand, including furniture, crockery and cutlery to the use of salvaged parquet for the flooring, to reuse of bricks from our and other sites, clay pavers lifted and reused for new driveway, salvaged cast-iron closed combustion stove, to internal doors from another project repurposed for this project. Diverting material from landfill sites is so important and can save costs.
Capitalise on daylight and climate to make your spaces beautiful and lovely to be in whilst minimising your energy demand and carbon footprint. I worked with the brilliant Sow & Reap to optimise daylight and thermal comfort through creating a model of the design early on and accessing performance in software that uses real climate data from its location. This ensured seamless compliance with energy efficiency without the need for expensive technical solutions such as double glazing or reflective glass. And we were able to tweak the design to make it work even better with input from Sow & Reap, despite the building’s tricky west orientation. Simple changes to size and position of windows made a huge difference and the way the light enters this house is my absolute favourite thing about it. Through a full summer and most of a very wet and chilly winter, we have not needed to heat or cool the space even once and our little fireplace will only be used for “geselligheid” once installed!
Supporting small and family-run businesses and high-intensity labour processes that support local economies and provide meaningful work for people like custom-made timber window frames by Jacobs Joiners, custom kitchen cabinetry by Grant Botten, parquet flooring by Schultz Flooring, steel stair and railing by Creative Metals. The building industry has the potential to create work for so many.
Working together with a good structural engineer also offers design opportunities without extra cost – the roof structure is one of the defining features of the space as well as being completely functional and highly efficient in material use and constructibility.
Reclaimed Parquet Flooring
Grant Botten Design