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Beach House Fowler
Sheffield Beach, KwaZulu-Natal

Dean JAY: Architect
2006SAIA Award of Merit

Award Citation

The brief for this weekend retreat was for a simple and relaxed environment around a courtyard. There should be an open-plan living space, with the kitchen screened there from, but not separated; and four bedrooms with a dormitory space as back-up accommodation. The established Milkwood trees were to be conserved and the exterior was to be painted 'seaweed' colour.

The habitable spaces surround a courtyard designed as an informal yet private outdoor living area. Materials and finishes are simple and the numerous features of the design geared toward informal yet secluded relaxation are executed with care. There is no formal front door. The entrance falls between house and garage, and follows the axis of the view to the ocean, via the courtyard and the living space. The ground floor is thus given over to informal outdoor and indoor living space; the upper to bedrooms surrounding the courtyard volume.

To be able to build on this site an existing watercourse had to be diverted and filled-in and, though of brick construction, ground beams on piles were unavoidable. To meet with the required simplicity, the roof is of fibre-cement sheeting; walls bagged and painted; floors screeded, polished and sealed; and on the upper floor, raked strip ceilings rest atop exposed trusses. Extensive use was made of built-in furniture and fittings, including beds and cupboards, and custom-designed baths to the two en-suite, sea-facing bedrooms. Each bedroom has its own screen-enclosed balcony. The gentle, understated and seemingly effortless response celebrates the tradition of the vernacular in an understated manner yet with the integrity of a contemporary architecture.

All truncated references not fully cited below are those of Joanna Walker's original text and cited in full in the 'Bibliography' entry of the Lexicon.