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Veranda House

The client was a woodwork teacher, living in Swellendam which, like many other small towns in the Western Cape of South Africa, is abundant with Victorian architecture. He spoke about his adoration for Victorian architecture.

Being on a limited budget we proposed that the house 'grows' in an incremental in a preplanned manner, with the house never appearing incomplete. Also, with South Africa being a nation of DIY’ers, how much are you prepared to do yourself ? The client, being a skilled carpenter was quite useful, and was influential to the conceptual approach.

The veranda is a common feature on Victorian houses and was also a popular addition to some Cape Dutch buildings. A veranda is most frequently defined as an open-walled, roofed porch attached to the exterior of a domestic structure and usually surrounded by a railing. The word came into English through the Hindi varandā, but it is related to the Spanish baranda, meaning “railing,” and thus most likely entered Hindi via Portuguese explorers of India. Veranda most often refers to a long porch that extends along more than one outside wall of a house and is used for outdoor activities. In some parts of the United States, however, it is used to mean any kind of porch, and in India it refers to either a long, open porch or an enclosed area in the front of the house where visitors are received. – Brittanica.com

With incrementality in mind the idea was to create an exceptionally wide veranda on a plinth first, which could provide a protected environment which can be populated over time with additional rooms as the client requires. Oversized stoep (porch) ‘furniture’ in effect. We created a sandwich where the client could choose/make his own filling. The benefit of a veranda is also that they provide passive solar control as the overhang shades the building facades during the summer.

We let-go of our obsession to design everything and focused our attention on the roof, being the most dominant feature of many buildings. For this we also referred to Victorian architecture, in particular the profiles the catalogue verandas were typically available in: bullnose, convex, ogee and concave (eyelash). Some of these profiles, due to the fact that they were made from corrugated sheeting and the way they were shaped required either no or very little supporting structure, inherently self-supporting as a result, apart from the slim columns holding it up off course.

We found the concave profile the most appealing as it has a natural structural curvature, almost like a tent, and elegantly hides the scale of the roof. It is also beautiful in its extrusion. We asked: ‘Can this roof be self-supporting at a larger scale as well?’ We devised an insulated sandwich panel with corrugated galvanized sheets either side, with a deeper more pronounced corrugation where strips join, effectively forming a beam which works together with the corrugations forming a continuous roof, without the need of any secondary structure. This allows the roof space itself to be useable as accommodation or storage (solder) on top of the room modules.

Incremental Process:

1/ occupy roofed courtyard and build the rooms needed,

2/ remove the roof and place over garage; move into the house, use the courtyard as a protected outside space,

3/ Use the garage as workshop to build additional modules as needed.

Although never realized, idea could have broader positive implications in terms affordable housing provision on a grander scale, and could possibly be combined with modular construction (or other MMC’s) methods which are becoming more and more popular.




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Steyn Studio

Swellendam, ZA