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Courtyard House
Newlands, Cape Town, Western Cape

2011CIfA Award for Architecture
Street:3 Orange Road

Award citation

The house at 3 Orange Road is a new residence designed for the architect's family.

Located in the leafy southern suburbs of Newlands this project represents the considered remaking of a new dwelling on an existing site. The demolition of an old stand-alone suburban house has afforded opportunity for the reconfiguration of the site. This has been achieved by the inversion of the previous centralised figure-ground to establish a central voided garden plane around which the new building and formal landscaping have been organised.

An L-shape plan is contained at the edge of the site, opening up the building to the sun and views of the mountain. The outer perimeter of the house is solid, whilst the north opens toward the garden. All openings are full height and width and screened by purpose made lattice woven screens. These serve to animate the regularity of the facades, and reveal patterns of itinerant use that occur within the dwelling.

The planning invokes a number of spatial turns that heightens our experience of space. The entry sequence to the first level recollects le Corbusier's use of the architectural promenade, where movement is both generator and organiser of space. Here the reciprocal relations between route and void have cleverly articulated the various public and private domains, thereby enhancing both pleasure and use.

Attention to detail is manifest in multiple spatial resolutions to accommodate domestic rituals. In a rare display of modesty, everyday life has been privileged in contradistinction to the overworking of material culture so often evident in high budget residential projects, most notably here at the Cape. A simple palette complements the intricacy of planning, providing us with a clear reminder of what it means to be measured and responsibly responsive.

The House on Orange is recognised as exemplary of an appropriate response to the design of an upper end dwelling in a time of exceptional excess. Its modesty and clarity of purpose establish a worthy benchmark for emulation in the Cape.

(PrArch - The Cape Institute for Architecture. Vol 13 October 2011)

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.