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Igoda View House
East London, Eastern Cape


Client:Mr Charles Diamond
2007BKIA Award for Architecture
2008SAIA Award of Merit
2008SAIA Award for Excellence


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33°05'57.26" S 27°46'34.83" E Alt: 40m

BKIA Award for Architecture Citation

This is a privately owned beach house (holiday house) for Mr. Charles Diamond built in Igoda River Mouth 15 Kilometres from East London Airport. The house is planned around courtyard with the main house directly opposite the main gate entrance and guest rooms placed on each side to complete the courtyard.

The house is divided into three sections: The main house is a double volume structure placed opposite the entrance gate with two guest rooms placed on each side. The wall completes the courtyard by linking the two guest units on either side. The house is ordered in a rectilinear form and boldly pronounces its presence in a bushy natural environment. The Helper’s room and a garage are rather detached from the complex playing more of a security role for the complex.

The two guest wings on each side run down the slope and crushes into a magnified horizontal brick like structure which forms an anchor for the guest wings. The priorities defining different uses of the building are reflected with differentiating concept in enclosure system.

The control in use of different material is evident with the main structure finished in bare rough, non plastered brick façade joining two smooth plastered guest room facades.

The distribution of the rooms has left more private areas like bedrooms on the upper level which resulted in a tower of solid brick of rather compact and solid appearance broken by small apertures of small windows sheltered from direct north sun by vertical louvers.

To emphasise the relation with outdoors, most of the ground floor wall is a sliding glass promoting unobstructed framed sea views and continuation of the landscape into the house. The ground floor space openness and fluidity integrates kitchen, dining and living space to one space with their deferent functions defined by two monolithic stairs visually connecting the upper floor through the double volume. Small opening window sections inserted abruptly into the glass wall adds evocative and elegant feature on the glass facade.

Specially designed furniture has also been positioned to define different spaces and strikes a contrasting balance with earthy tile floor finish.

The entrance to the main house is negotiated by walking through a courtyard space providing a transition between the public domain and private domain. This has been successfully achieved by bringing the outside level through the courtyard and a change of level to bring your attention to a more controlled environment.

The building touches the ground through stone cobbled apron with a symbolic gesture of permeability and implies the structure mushrooming through the ground.

Award of Merit Citation

This privately owned retreat for a London based art dealer shows an assurance in the use of rectilinear geometries, a restraint of material choice and finishes, composed in a series of solids and voids where spaces can be variably configured through use of sliding walls, doors and shades. The art on display is incorporated into the design, as is the relaxed yet sophisticated lifestyle of the client. The melding of the structured landscapes of drives, paths and courtyard with the topography and restored indigenous landscape makes for a seamless architectural composition of merit.

Award of Excellence Citation

The architecture is a straightforward arrangement of orthogonal geometries but arranged to dramatise the spatial quality of the interior and connections to the exterior, further enriched by changes in floor level. The brief called for a holiday house that functions as three independent living units configured around a courtyard. Its fourth side defined by a linear-shaped swimming pool next to the entry and defined by a wall serving as a projection screen. This simple configuration creates a multiplicity of frontage, either onto the communal courtyard or towards spectacular private views of sea and dune vegetation respectively.

The palette of materials is restricted to a limited range of commonplace - béton brut, unadorned and bagged brickwork and polished concrete flagstones - their ordinariness transcended by attention to detail. Recycled Oregon pine is the dominant structural material and finish, sourced from a derelict industrial warehouse. Although the indiscriminate harvesting of timber has negative connotations, here the recycled extant material gains ecological credence, as does the collecting of rainwater stored in tanks in the basement, to service the house and irrigate the garden.

The project reveals the architectural opportunities imbedded in the particularities of site and programme. At every level, Igoda View is uniquely conceived and masterfully executed at a level of excellence.

Architect's Motivation

Having discovered, quite by accident on a brief trip to SA, a magnificent peninsular 10 minutes south of East London airport on the undiscovered coast of the Eastern Cape, Charles Diamond decided to make his SA holiday home right there. It overlooked the languid Igoda river as it sweeps through the deep ravines on its way to the sea, and with a 10-kilometre sweeping view down the Indian Ocean coast with its wide beaches and dunes giving way to dense coastal dune forest.

On arrival, a simple gum pole fence marks the site boundary. The entrance gate is an abstract sculptural installation on the broad landscape, a screened image, framed, of the view beyond.

A winding drive towards the house and into the overwhelming view delivers one to a loosely structured landscaped forecourt, located in the veld alongside a landscaped scaled rough brick courtyard wall. Discreet, cheeky neon signage names the three optional entrances: Greta, Sophia and Marion. The impressive and glorious natural environment, the simplicity of the built architecture, and the integration of classy artworks and furnishings is already the experience.

The accommodation requirements were for a single house that could function also as three independent self-sufficient living components, made up of a primary house and two guest suites. The arrangement of the three parts form a common courtyard, with the fourth side of this outside living room defined by a lineal pool alongside the length of the entrance wall. This arrangement results in each living unit opening either inwards to this common living landscaped garden, or outwards towards a magnificent private sea and/or dune bush view. The flexibility in the levels of privacy is enabled by externally mounted sliding timber screens to the courtyard that restrict visual connection, yet allow filtered light to penetrate the internal spaces. Shared, double-volume, lofty porticos on each corner link the adjacent living units, one in the bush and one open to the sea. These give covered external common or private living space to the individual parts of the house.

The courtyard becomes the communal space. It is the living room that joins the three house components. It is where one can retreat from the sometimes wild Eastern Cape coastal wind. It is the entrance to the main house. It is visually connected to the expansive stretch of sea, sand and dune bush across the transparent space of the main house living room, which is a platform between the internal and the external landscape.

The architectural language is simple and robust. The elemental building blocks are articulated with compositional overhangs and openings towards focused views. The limited palette of material makes reference to the simple eastern cape vernacular, with the rough common-brick walls, the white-bagged brickwork and the off-shutter concrete, unpretentious and utilitarian. The attached glass canopies and slatted screens bring a delicacy and sophistication. The timber throughout, in the exposed roof beams (referential to traditional Cape building) and in the custom joinery items, is Oregon, recycled from a demolished cotton store in the region. Rainwater is collected in tanks stored in the basement to service the house and garden irrigation.

The side units, running down the hill, have a roof line and internal volume that follow the topography. The main house between these two side wings, is double volume and solid at the upper level, but open on the ground floor, extending generously into the lofty porticos on either end, as described above. The home is filled with beautiful furniture and artwork, collected over time, and selected particularly for this place.

The house is a holiday home, a retreat and a gallery. It is somewhere to be comfortable in, where one does feel great wonder and appreciation of both the natural and physical environment. There is a comfort and ease in this contemporary building because of the architectures responsive connection to the region, to the site, and in the inherent understanding of both living' requirements and pleasures.

The photographs on this page were taken by William MARTINSON, Angela Buckland and Dennis Gilbert

Writings about this entry

South African Institute of Architects. 2008. Awards : South African Institute of Architects. Awards for Excellence, Awards of Merit, Regional Awards for Architecture 2005/2006 2007/2008. Cape Town: Picasso for SAIA. pg 18-21, 50-51
Fisher, Roger Igoda View: in Joubert, 'Ora (Ed). 2009. 10 years + 100 buildings: pp 382-385