House Keer Weder (Hermanus)
House Keer Weder 2023
Our brief for any project is always initiated by a simple questionnaire prospective clients fill out on our website to establish certain layers and parameters about the phenomenological, psychological and functional needs of the buildings’ primary occupants (not to mention, also to measure the proportions of the eyes to the pocket. i.e., the realism of the vision). One critical question is asked which gives the most insight into what the architecture as physical manifestation and vessel should encompass: ‘As what type of vehicle would you consider your project / house to be?’ Le Corbusier, seminal Modernist Architect, made the analogy between aircraft and architecture in the mid 1930’s and is famous for stating that the house is a machine for living in. Meaning, that the vehicle (in our case an automobile as opposed to an aeroplane) is designed and standardised to a high degree of precision in order to optimally fulfill its purpose.
You are probably curious to find out what our clients’ response to this question was? For their desired project they chose (suspenseful pause) the very popular Toyota Fortuner. In this equation it was a challenge to use the existing chassis of a 1983 Fiat Panda and convert it into the robust and functional machine that is the Fortuner. Nevertheless, we went about to examine ways in which we could convert the existing house into a low-maintenance, practical, aesthetically pleasing abode, while adding substantial investment value.
With a modest budget, in an era following a global paradigm shift resulting in massive inflation, it presented a challenge indeed. The one term which presented itself early in the exploratory phase, borrowed from winemaking philosophy, was ‘minimal intervention’ architecture in this case. In other words, how could we respond with the least amount of demolition and construction, with the largest and most effective impact? A general design philosophy which is most appropriate in our ecological sustainability crisis.
Somehow Mies van der Rohe had a premonition with his saying, “less is more.” To our benefit, this approach suited our client’s judicious taste, as well as our commitment to honesty of materials and an architectural simplicity through rhythm, contrast, light and structural integrity. As Louis Kahn’s question echoes in our subconscious (what does a brick want to be?) we ask in the same spirit, what does the site / building want to be or become? This is where our thinking, mauling and imagining process begin; and in this case, the house asked for a new heart.
This came in the form of a central atrium: a connection point that feeds all other organelles, a space where the boundaries are blurred between inside and outside, that consider both the intimate rituals of domestic life as well as the beautiful wild forces of the outside. Great care was given to respond to climate, the surrounding landscape / views, security, privacy and ultimately ‘homeliness’ – the house as home, manifested through the differentiated qualities of its spaces. It strives to stay true to its authentic name of Keer Weder, meaning a place to which one returns.
Vincent de Beer & Raymond Smith
Full six stage architectural
23 January 2023