The part of the Free Sate containing Bloemfontein is known for its low and undulating landscape, interspersed with equally low hills or koppies. It is a dreamy landscape of long perspectives, where the occasional cloud is the real, but ephemeral, architecture of promise for the sustenance of life.
The topographical features of Bloemfontein follow this pattern. The original settlement was started at a fountain, at a small river, in a relatively flat river basin. This valley is surrounded by hills and has resulted in the people dwelling there within the landscape. The horizon line becomes the 'protector' in the larger and rather limitless context. A view beyond the horizon line is unique, and a privilege to be achieved with some effort
It is this effort that is, in effect, the spirit of House Roodt. It personifies the view, and the view is the reason for its existence. However, we all know that when one has the privilege of the view, one needs to deal with the fact that others can see you; there is reciprocal relationship between seeing and being seen. The stage exists for both.
In House Roodt, the protection of the landscape has been forsaken in order to rise above the limitations of the valley section. It is a man-made marker in conversation with the clouds. The house was clearly a challenge to build on this site, but the architects overcame the difficulties with elegance. The building is in plan, section and elevation an interesting play between solid and void, and this method has been used in a masterful way to both contain and to set free. This relationship between open and closed becomes the symbolic signifier of dwelling on this elevated site. It reminds one of the Dutch movement of De Stijl, as well as the three-dimensional implication of the work of artist Piet Mondrian. Craftmanship and attention to detail are of the highest order. The building has been made to last and it will, without doubt, give pleasure and shelter to many generations to come.
Each act by an architect is a manifesto of sorts - it presents an entire set of beliefs. When the architect builds for the self, this statement becomes highly personal and rather public at the same time. It becomes the measurement of both the person and the work.
In all of this, House Roodt gives a credible and respectable account of both the man and building.
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