While constructing homes out of wood is the norm in places such as the States and Scandinavia, building a wooden home in South Africa is normally revered as being ambitious, with few craftsmen having the necessary skills and knowledge to bring a home of this nature to life.
However, thanks to the innovation of a handful of companies, as well as some passionate architects, wooden homes are being seen more frequently throughout the country.
Jacques Cronje, is one such architectural designer and one of the first to specialise in timber architecture. He is the brains behind House Jouissance in Lakeside, Cape Town. The property is constructed over 4 various levels on a hillside, with magnificent views of False Bay. When taking into consideration its evocative mountain location, timber seemed the obvious choice for much of the structure of this home. “I prefer wood over other materials for its warmth and the feeling it evokes, for the connection to nature it provides,” says Cronje.
And it’s exactly this connection to nature, that had clients in Constantia requesting Malan Vorster design them a one-bedroomed treehouse in their own backyard. It was a project that required the utmost of ambition and the architects stepped up to the plate to create a vertical clearing in the forest in which the treehouse is situated. Where handcrafted manufacturing may have seen others turn away due to time and monetary constraints this intrepid team of client and architect delivered a project that could be seen as a first of its kind in South Africa. “All materials are left untreated, and will express the passing of time as they weather naturally with the surrounding trees,” says Peter Urry of Malan Vorster, emphasising the unique qualities that constructing a house in wood can bring to a project.
And it’s this feeling of warmth and natural character that is the real appeal of constructing a home out of wood. Kevin Lloyd, an innovative architect that has used wood in a number of ways in his designs, from cladding, to staircases, roof finishes and even hidden walls, gives some insight into why he returns to wood time and time again. “Timber is an amazing material being able to be laminated, bent, secretly joined, veneered and engineered. It also offers varying finishes in terms of colour and texture. Wood is special as it is so much more alive than other traditional wall finishes, with grain, colour, variance in time and a sense of softness to touch. It is a material perfect for a situation where you want to both see and feel warmth, softness and life.”
And while many architects haven’t quite warmed to the idea of constructing whole houses out of timber just yet, we are seeing an upsurge in timber finishings on properties around South Africa. These come in the form of treated timber ceilings, wooden poles for fencing, wood wall claddings, rustic decks, and visible wooden roof trusses.
Nadine Engelbrecht is one architect that enjoys incorporating elements of timber into her designs, integrating thermo treated pine products for pergolas, Balau decking and engineered oak floors into homes where concrete and steel rein supreme. “I enjoy using wood because it softens the palette of the house bringing warmth into the structure,” says Engelbrecht, echoing the sentiments of other architects opting for wood finishes.
We couldn’t agree more. Here at R&B Timber Group we love seeing timber being used more creatively in the building industry and commend those architects that are willing to step out of their comfort zone to create homes that inspire, provide warmth, and ultimate comfort anyone who steps inside their treated timber frames. For any of your needs sourcing treated timber poles or wooden poles, please do not hesitate to get in touch with R&B Timber Group.