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Hakahana - House Stauch
Kameeldrift, Pretoria, Gauteng

Hellmut Wilhem Ernst STAUCH: Architect



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Alt: 1307m

A transcribed extract - from a contemporary publication describing the house - is provided below:


By architect-owner Hellmut Stauch

AN artesian borehole, a beautiful view over distant hills, wonderful soil, indigenous trees and a river with a series of dams are the setting for this house. The property is ten and a half miles (17km) west of Pretoria, on a tarred road, in a lovely valley.

When we bought the place, there were no improvements and we had only a month to build something to live in until we could afford to build the house we wanted, or rather thought we wanted, because at that stage we knew how we would like to live, but had no plan. In other words, we were in the some position as our clients when they decide to build a house and have the first interview with their architect. This is a wonderful experience, because one realises once more that framing your programme properly is half the success of the building.

Our requirements were:

Bedrooms away from the ground, if possible floating in the air, entirely away from the rest of the house, yet conveniently accessible. They must be airy, sunny in winter, shady and cool in summer. They must not be earthbound - we want to sleep and dream properly, fly away, sever our ties.

Generous livingspace for relaxation, entertainment, conversation. This is where we are near the earth and want to feel it. The garden touches this space, comes right into it. The livingspace must be divisible into small areas, one portion to be a "cave" with low ceiling, warm materials, large fireplace, books, music, comfortable seats. (From this area we want to see the upper pool through the striplight over the seats, the overflow into the lower pool, and the lovely view through the north-west picture window. Imagine the cool room with the sound of falling water on a hot summer's day-or on ice-cold winter's day, with the water emphasising the chill, with a roaring log fire in the fireplace, which warms up the concrete hood surrounding slate walls.

Diningspace, which is connected with the living, rather large for entertaining many friends, but reducible in size for intimate parties. For people who like good food and drink, the dining room is a most important feature.

A studio for work and play, attached to workshop and garage to form a large hobby and utility area, with convenient access to the rest of the house, but sufficiently detached for separate activities. This is also the farm office, from which farm wages are paid.

Guestrooms, with own entrances, sitting room and bathroom. When our friends stay with us, we want them to be independent, and retain their individual personalities.

As a contrast to the wide open spaces, we wanted an enclosed garden court with a small swimming pool. The pools play an important part, because in South Africa where water is at a premium, we wanted to enjoy the water we have - we wanted to see it all the time, around the house, and we wanted to hear it running.

Hakahana means "quick" in the Herero language. We had to act quickly to get a roof over our heads, to surround ourselves with lawns and gardens, and the farmyard with stables for cows, horses, pigs, fowls and ducks.

To get a roof over our heads, we designed a structure which would be adaptable to varying uses in future. It consisted of tubular steel columns, to which beams and double rafters were bolted, carrying the roof structure, so that all walls were non-loadbearing and therefore changeable. This we built within a month, and lived there for two years. It is the portion of the rear, which now houses guestrooms, studio and garage.

In the short time at our disposal, we could not design the future house. All we could do was to estimate its probable extent and decide on its rear line, direction, and the levels. We fixed this, which determined the corner in the upper pool. Later we found it rather tricky to fit the house into the allocated space with the restriction imposed by the corner. But, perhaps it was just as well to have imposed a restriction in this form, because without that one tends to ramble far afield. It is difficult to discipline imagination sometimes.

In designing the house proper, the problem was to integrate the new with the existing so that it would not spoil the setting and the view of the rear block, and could be built while the first portion was occupied.

We were very lucky in having Herr Gerbl from Munich, an artist with stone, brick and mortar. He built the house practically single-handed. It was a pleasure to see him dig the slate out of the excavations for foundations and swimming pool, and build it into walls and floors, so to speak, "red hot". He was a tradesman who took real pride in his work, and what a plasterer! We were also lucky with Mijnheer Scheffer from Renkum, who worked in my office for five years as assistant, until we suddenly discovered that he is a qualified carpenter. Without his craftsmanship the woodwork would not be the feature it is. So this house was built by a few men, who took pride in the work. They were ably supported by those manufacturers who supplied the features that were sometimes tricky, such as windows and sliding doors (Leo Metal Windows), in which Mr. Besaans took personal interest, and Theo van Latum, who supplied the built-in cupboards, bar, stairs, etc. and made a first-class job of them.

(Wale c.1959:11–22)

[Submitted by William MARTINSON]

Watch a video about the house in FurureSpaces created by Arthur BARKER

Writings about this entry

Fisher, RC, Le Roux, SW & Maré, E (Eds). 1998. Architecture of the Transvaal. Pretoria: UNISA. pg 179, 182, 183, 184, 186, 190 ills
Wale, Laurie (Editor). 1959. Home building ideas : architects' plans for Southern Africa. Cape Town: Purnell. pg 11–22