Bergplaas Residence

Location: Mpumalanga, South Africa
Client: Ludwig Hansen and Ronel Wasserman
Start Date: January 2018
Completion Date: December 2020
Project Team: Ludwig Hansen, Alexander Thomson, Jacob Kritzinger
Photos: Lionel Vincer

Bergplaas

The project is located on a remote site; a conservancy between Lydenburg and Dullstroom in Mpumulanga, South Africa. The physical build included alterations and upgrades to the existing 243 square metre residence, and 182 square metres of new additions consisting of an independent residence, an art studio, and two subsidiary service buildings.

The existing residence alterations focused on upgrading the external living areas; the stoep, outdoor kitchen, enclosed courtyard, and a new courtyard that links the existing building with the new additions. The external envelope, roof and perimeter walls were retrofitted with steel sheet cladding for practical and aesthetic upgrades.

The design had to take into account the major site challenges which included remote access, extreme weather conditions, and local labour skill sets.

The owners of the farm have a long standing relationship with the Coromandel community. They have maintained constant engagement with its members exploring and encouraging work and educational opportunities. Thus the project could be better described as a journey rather than a conventional build.

From the onset of the building project the decision was made to utilise the skills of the town’s labour force as far and as wide as possible. The role of architect, project manager, and construction manager was fulfilled by an architect from the owner’s architectural practice based in Johannesburg. This employee managed the local labour team, and instructed and supervised work on site. The local building team, which fluctuated between 8 to 12 members, brought with them a wealth of local knowledge, craftsmanship and experience which served to enrich the building design. 

The construction site therefore became a platform for sharing knowledge from local understanding of the surrounding context and materials, to up-skilling the building team with new and alternative building methodologies and materials. This cross pollination transcended the typical construction project and produced architecture that is deeply rooted in its context.