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The brief called for the new development, which included gardens, a small restaurant/café called ‘Die Spens’ (The Pantry) and gift shop (‘Winkel’), on the Bosjes Estate to be relevant and contextual, providing an inviting and inspiring journey between the two key attractions on the estate: the well-known Bosjes chapel and the manor house, whilst not interfering with the visual dialogue between the two.
The new garden is a conceptual microcosm of the broader landscape, referencing the regional context of the agricultural Breedekloof Valley, not far from Cape Town. The new gardens therefore, create a beautiful playscape that encourages children and adults to engage with the natural world, and the buildings nestled within it. Diverse ecologies were created by integrating wetlands and natural water treatment systems with forest habitats and rehabilitated indigenous vegetation. The overall design respectfully acknowledges the presence of the historic manor house and chapel on the estate and visually enhances the previously established relationship between the two, as well as the surrounding vineyards and mountain backdrops.
In order to hide approximately 750m2 of building, it was decided early on to have two separate buildings, which also adds to the visitor experience. Steyn Studio worked closely with Square One to not only position the built structures in the landscape as curiosities, but also as anchors around which the landscape was then designed. The seamless integration of the landscaping elements with the built structures was an essential design objective from the start of the project.
The simple architectural forms of the buildings were inspired by the huts of the San called a ‘Matjieshuis’ (Mat House) as well as the first dwellings of the Dutch settlers, called ‘Kaphuis’ (Truss House), which was apparently influenced by the San. The Kaphuis could therefore have been a hybrid of sorts between these two cultures. The Matjieshuis was a portable, curved structure covered with woven mats, used by San herders as they migrated with their cattle during precolonial and early colonial times. The Kaphuis was a series of A-frame trusses covered with thatch. Both structures were part of this historical landscape and blended subtly with their surroundings.
Intricately curved American white oak trellis structures, a subtle homage to the San huts, serve as a visual focus that guides visitors inwards and then twists to create the enclosures of the café/restaurant and gift shop which are then ‘carpeted’ over with the new gardens. Over time, these extensive trellises will be further integrated into the garden; overgrown with more than a dozen species of climbing plants.
“The American white oak was selected ultimately due to its durability combined with the properties it contains when heated – the sap liquefies allowing specific radii to be bent to a reasonable accuracy. When cooled the shape is retained. This was based on analysis provided by ARUP and completed by the engineer Henry Fagan,” says Callum Semple, Senior Architectural Technologist at Meyer & Associates.
Meyer & Associates, whilst still in the process of completing the ground-breaking Botha’s Halte Primary School for the same client nearby, were appointed to act as project architects and principal agent in South Africa, assisting Steyn Studio in the execution of the project on site and helping to develop and resolve some of the complex detailing on a seemingly simple project.

“It is not everyday that we see American white oak being used in such an extraordinarily beautiful outdoor setting. This project really serves to highlight the strength, durability and versatility of this species.”, says AHEC Regional Director, Roderick Wiles. “It should also be mentioned that the 5.7 cubic metres of American white oak used to construct the trellis would be replaced through natural regeneration in the US hardwood forest in under 9 seconds, such is the vastness of this sustainable managed hardwood.”

Click here to view images of the rest of the project. 

About Square One Landscape Architects
Over the past 10 years, Square One Landscape Architects have successfully designed and optimised 200 public and private properties. From designing plazas for Redefine Properties to detailing urban parks for the City of Cape Town, we are the first choice professional partner for our clients. Square One Landscape Architects works across all scales of planning, urban design, architecture and engineering to produce plans and details that are integrated across an entire project. They are refined and stand apart from the rest for all the right reasons. Additionally, our experience in Green Infrastructure design embraces the very latest in green technologies.
About Steyn Studio
Steyn Studio is a collaborative architecture practice. We believe design has the power to solve problems, inspire, and improve lives and work hard everyday to realise this ambition. We always aim to do this honestly and with the freedom to creatively explore meaningful design solutions. Designs that make a real difference to the end-user and the client; culturally and commercially.
About Meyer & Associates
The original firm, known as MEYER+VORSTER Architects, Urban Designers and Interior Designers, was founded in 2002. In 2013, the firm was restructured and became known as MEYER & ASSOCIATES Architects, Urban Designers. It is owned and managed by the founding principal of the practice, Tiaan Meyer. He has over twenty years’ experience in the architectural and urban design industry and is complemented by a staff of twelve, which include several professionally registered architects, technologists and interior designers. Team members have been hand-picked for their specialist skill-sets and design capabilities. MEYER & ASSOCIATES takes pride in delivering unique, effective and aesthetically pleasing solutions to clients’ design briefs and development objectives.

Photography by Dave Southwood