The Farmhouse or farm structure is a very big part of the South African landscape one can almost not imagine a farm (or game farm for that matter) without the typical shed-like structure & wraparound ‘stoep’.
These shed-like structures can almost be regarded as off-the-shelf architecture, and was almost the first structure any responsible pioneer erected. They were built to last along with the barn-house that emerged as a type, and so the tradition of the Highveld farmstead started.
Farmhouse, lodge & cabin design forms a big part of the work we get commissions for at Orton Architects and I would like to take this opportunity to highlight two aspects of farmhouse design; the Farmhouse kitchen & 1,8 meter wide stoep.
The Farmhouse kitchen
Give the kitchen light on two sides. When you place the kitchen counter later, make them really long and generous and toward the north to get the right amount of natural light. Make the kitchen bigger than usual, big enough to include the “family room” space, and place it near the centre of the common area.
Make it large enough to hold a goof big table and chairs, some soft and some hard, with counters, stove & sink around the edge of the room. Make it a bright and comfortable room (Alexander 1977:663)
The 1,8 meter wide stoep
Whenever you build a stoep, balcony, porch, gallery or a terrace always make it at least 1830mm deep. If possible, recess at least a part of it into the building so that it is not separated from the building by a simple line, and enclose it partially.
A balcony is used properly when there is enough room for two or three people to sit in a small group with room to stretch their legs and also room for a small table. (Alexander 1977:784)
Wrap around verandas are often incorporated in farmhouse design and supplemented with timber sliding windows for additional privacy and protection from prevailing winds. Corrugated roof sheeting and cladding corresponds to the local iron ‘kite houses’ often built by early pioneers and farmers and add a lightness of touch to these homes.
The farmhouse structure can further be modified to allow for lighting within the roof space. The result is an architectural jewel sensitively responding to the form, material and spatial disposition of the vernacular and typical South African farmer.
These contemporary farmsteads do not shout for attention but proudly takes it rightful place within South African vernacular architecture.
The fireplace should be in a common space where it can knit together the social spaces and rooms around it, giving them each a glimpse of the fire; and place a window to sustain the place during the times that the fire is out. (Alexander 1977)
Cooking layout pointers
- Place the stove, fridge, counter & sink in a circular layout that none of these elements are more than 3 meters apart.
- No section of a kitchen counter should be less than 1,3 meters in length.
- The most important work surface should be in a sunny place with ample natural light.
If you are interested in a farmhouse design, speak with Orton Architects today.
Want to build a farmhouse?
Download Orton Architect’s Guidelines for Modern Farmhouse Design today.