Bureaux House Aufrichtig 1
Bureaux House Aufrichtig 1

This contemporary take on a traditional barn structure among the apple orchards of the Elgin Valley makes for a simple, inspiring weekend getaway.

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From the front of the house, the stylised silhouette of its contemporary barn aesthetic is most clearly revealed. The outdoor entrainment area is sheltered from the sun and wind by a blackened wood pergola-style structure. The way its semi-permeable form and irregular shadows break up the solid mass of the house dissolves it at its edge, subtly integrating it with its setting. Although the simplicity of the design is revealed by this view – there’s just one door to close at night, as Jody points out – there’s a deceptive optical illusion that belies this apparent purity of form. The illusion that you can see right through the house to the other side is created by a mirrored wall behind the kitchen which catches the reflection of the garden behind, and also brings light and views right into the middle of the house.  

 

The decked outdoor entertainment area is wonderfully positioned so that it takes in views over the dam, orchard and forested surrounds. This is where Jody says he spends most of his time when the family stays here. It is kitted out with a gas and a wood-burning braai (barbeque) and a simple prep area for outdoor cooking. The outdoor sofas were custom designed by architect Greg Scott and his team with bases made from spruce to match the interior of the house. The outdoor harvest table was commissioned from Capetonian designer James Mudge Furniture Studio and the light, almost transparent chairs are by Danish company Hay.

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The counter top is blackened brass, heat treated to attain a specific level of blackness. “It weathers and oxidises over time, so it develops more and more of a patina, almost as a character and story of its own,” says Greg, “but underpins that industrial aesthetic that we were working with.” The strip pendant light is Spazio. The pendant lights above the dining table are by Foscarini/Diesel Home. The dining chairs are James Mudge. The “Spin” candelabra is by Tom Dixon.

The dining room is part of the open-plan living space. The dining chairs are by James Mudge. The “Spin” candelabra is by Tom Dixon. While most of the ambient lighting has been integrated into the walls – for example, the vertical LED strip lights behind the dining table – their unobtrusiveness has made space for a few feature lights. “You’ll see the balance of the lighting is so discreet, so integral with the structure, indirect, that you’re able to pop a couple of special lights in there,” says Greg. He has used pendant lights by Foscarini/Diesel Home (available through Crema Design) for task lighting above the dining table and kitchen island. The nesting tables are by James Mudge, and the cage lamp is from Weylandts. 

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From the main living area, the outdoor entertainment area seems like an extension of the house, continuing the clean lines and simplified minimalist form of the pitched ceiling. The interiors have been entirely “skinned”, as architect Greg Scott puts it, with spruce – walls, floors and ceilings. The palette of the interior is restricted to black and matching wood used throughout.  “A lot of people are scared of black,” says Greg. “I love the presence that it has. If you understand the light (and you have enough light), there’s no reason not to use black. In terms of continuity, it’s a wonderful way to sew spaces and objects and elements together.” The sofas were custom designed by Greg with bases made from spruce to match the rest of the house. The coffee table and steel circular tripod table are both from Weylandts. The chairs are from Block & Chisel. The cork “Low Stools” are by Wiid Design (wiiddesign.co.za) from the Corkcabition range. The “Lab Vase” on the coffee table is also from Wiid Design. 

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Greg also designed the beds in the children’s bedrooms. The steel ladder in the foreground leads up to an additional sleeping area in the loft, where Jody says the children always prefer to sleep. The bedside lamp is Spazio. 

 

The bathrooms make for a playful contrast with the refinement of the living areas and bedrooms. The walls were built with stone salvaged from the site, introducing a rough, textured uneven surface. “Because we wanted rough stone collected in and around the buildings on the site, we had to design bathrooms where nothing touched the wall,” says Greg. The free-standing bathrooms units were designed by Greg and custom made, set away from the walls. Greg introduced a circular motif in the design to contrast with the angular masculine geometry that predominates throughout the rest of the house.