Breeding | Hunting | Bushveld Accommodation

The jamavani homestead is

An architectural inspiration

The brief to Earthworld Architects called for a modern farmhouse to become the family estate for an extended family involved in the breeding of rare game, called Jamavani. The site Rust-de-Winter conservation area, is an exemplary section of the South African Bushveld fronting onto the banks of the Elands River. Initially the intention was to site the house on a plateau alongside the bank of the river, though after much deliberation & investigation, it was decided to build the house above the 100-year flood line, which afforded a panoramic vista over the surrounding context of the farm.

The farm’s grazing habitat contains a total of eight different plant communities, all ideally suited to the game that roam the land. The vegetation of the farm is characterised by medium to tall woody species on moderately steep hill slopes, with grassland in-between. Small rocky outcrops covered in woody species are scattered across the grassland sections.

Many animal species can be found at Jamavani, including buffalo, sable, kudu, golden wildebeest, impala, giraffe and others.

African Design Magazine

The Jamavani homestead design called for various living spaces, each with its own character, and four large en-suite bedrooms for the extended family (which includes four married couples, and a number of grandchildren). The building had to communicate the quality, order and professionalism of the “business”, centred around the breeding of rare game. Future extensions to the house would be based on this, as a point of departure.

The entire pre-fabricated steel structure is made up of 152 x 152 x 23 steel H-Profile columns and beams. This led to a purist form and “systematic” detailing. Though pre-fabrication and “systematic” construction is not necessarily commonly employed in South Africa, it is becoming more important with increased demand and rising labour costs. The exploration of this form of construction logic could be considered most appropriate for the context of this project due to the site’s distance from reliable material suppliers.

45-degree pitch

Reinterpreting the traditional thatch lodge became the central concept of this project. Although not a specific requirement, the 45-degree pitch became a strong design informant. Further inspiration drawn from the structure of said thatch lodges, in the implementation of identical structural elements. In the same way one would use equally-sized timber poles, it was decided to use steel H-Profile elements.

Timber Walls

Initially the prefabricated, site assembled steel structure was erected, allowing the permanent shuttered concrete flooring, or suspended timber floors to be filled-in where required. A concrete service tower was introduced as structural core. This core also serves as main heating and cooling element. The core consists of two shafts; one as an evaporative cooling tower, the other as a chimney for a fire place. The fire place is also the fundamental element of the large central living area. Insulated timber walls fill the portal frame, clad on the exterior with either thermo-treated timber or Corrugated Zinc-Alume Sheeting. 

This in-fill approach was also dotted with brickwork panels where required. Careful attention to flashings and connections give the building additional formal articulation. Enormous attention was given to expressing the archetypal house form.

While the Jamavani House van der Westhuizen takes on a familiar shape of the traditional, pitched roof house, this design attempts to rethink the spaces such a form creates, while also making the construction of said spaces legible to those who interact with the building on a daily basis.