The restoration of the ensemble of heritage buildings on Buffelsdrift, west of Ladismith in the arid Klein Karoo region of the Western Cape, by SAOTA and Jaco Booyens Architect, a specialist in clay buildings, recently won the gold medal at the seventh edition (2019) of the international Domus Restoration and Conservation Award (www.premiorestauro.it) in Italy. The award recognises “excellence in the field of restoration, redevelopment and architectural and landscape recovery at an international level”. Photography by Adam Letch.
The restoration involved a cluster of Cape buildings in a valley beneath the Swartberg mountain range, consisting of a main house and two barns, plus a store. A short way off is a flat-roofed building, typical of the Ladismith style, which was originally used as a wine store. Other structures on the property include a contemporary shed, a cottage further up a hill and a graveyard.
The house, barns and wine store were all restored. SAOTA director Greg Truen, who acquired the farm in 2016, notes that while minor additions and modern alterations had been made to the buildings, the original house, was “in good condition, considering” and that the barns were “fundamentally untouched”. In the main house, evidence of earlier refurbishments in the 1970s, were stripped out, while modern kitchen and bathrooms were inserted in an adaptive approach to conservation. A new pump house was added near the dam wall on the property. Its design and construction were an experiment in contemporary architecture using the same materials and techniques as the heritage buildings, including poured mud or “cob” walls, as well as brick vaulted roofs. The landscaping around the house took the form of a series of low terraces.
Project Name: Buffelsdrift
Project Location: Ladismith, South Africa
Architects in Collaboration: Jaco Booyens Architect & SAOTA
Contractor: Pro-Projects and De Kock Bouers
Landscaping: Fritz Coetzee
Interior Designer: ARRCC
Bespoke Furniture: OKHA
Thatching: JNA Thatchers
Irrigation: Groen Karoo
Photographer: Adam Letch