From the moment that a South African doctor travelling in the UK at the time, fell in love with his future wife, who was working as an ER nurse, their relationship has been a synthesis of different cultures.
The wife wanted to get married in a castle, but instead of settling on a ballroom in Cheshire the couple held their wedding ceremony in a castle on Noetzie Beach and the reception at Zachary’s at Pezula Golf Estate in Knysna.
The following year, they bought a plot of land at Pezula and they reached out to Guy Ailion of KSR Architects to design a house that was not only an aesthetic tribute to two cultures but also a space where they could meet, meld and grow together. “As a South African working in the UK,” he says, “I wanted a space that could give our daughters a sense of their South African roots.”
Guy enlisted Rik Ørts-Hansen of TCNO Architects to work within the aesthetic framework set out by Pezula’s design committee.
“In the end,” says Rik, “the scheme is a combination of TCNO’s input and Guy’s original concept of having a hub where family and friends can gather – like the central space in a village for an imbizo [“gathering” in Zulu, usually one called by the traditional leader] – with individual living units attached to galleries that weave the spaces together. Each bedroom is orientated to have a unique framed view of the landscape.”
The imbizo concept came from the couples desire to create a space where the two families can come together for celebrations and to relax. “I just wanted a very sociable house,” she says. “I have many good memories of my family from the UK and my husband’s South African family meeting over the Christmas and New Year period.”
For the husband, who grew up in Umtata and whose father had a farm in Maclear in the Eastern Cape, the house also needed to reflect his Hlubi tribal heritage. One of the rooms is a walk-in cold room designed to accommodate a whole slaughtered sheep hung from the ceiling. “Every time we had a gathering, my dad used to slaughter a sheep,” he says, “so the butchery is reminiscent of that tradition, but interpreted in a contemporary way.”
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Photography: Jan Ras