Increasingly stringent protection of the coastal dune vegetation would now exclude new construction within 100 meters of the high water mark. The only exception is if a building is constructed within the footprint of a preexisting one and retains some of the original construction. This determined the position and footprint of the house, and our fundamental attitude to its environment.
The second primary influence is that the footprint of the preexisting house was cut into the back of the primary dune so that the lower floor could open onto natural ground level facing away from the ocean, and an upper floor could open onto the top of the dune facing toward the ocean, making it possible to have two equivalent but entirely different ‘ground floors’ operations and experiences.
Intensifying this potential in a zig-zag cross-section, two verandahs are stacked on top of each other so that daily-life plays out on the stage between the quintessentially sub-tropical bush and the Indian Ocean.
Externally, any symbols of ‘house’ like windows, doors and roof are avoided in favour of singular materiality, undefined scale, and elevation from the ground. This leaves only abstract form and surface to receive the sun’s projection of the dune vegetation like a movie screen, merging the house with its context to effectively disappear.
This very direct approach relies on its contrast with the scale, raw presence and delicacy of the dense and textured local coastal vegetation.
La Lucia, Durban, KwaZulu-Natal
SAIA Award of Excellence (2016)