Woodland Hills is a new wildlife estate situated to the west of the City of Bloemfontein. The clients bought a site with spectacular views over the Free State landscape. The client’s brief included the relationship of the house with the natural environment. At the initial meeting, the client described a house blending in with the natural vegetation and rocky landscape. The house was to also accommodate modern family living in a simple geometry. The architects were also forced to comply with a number of restrictive design criteria imposed by the estate, which include colour, shape, covering of roofs and even the position of windows.
The site is north-facing and is exposed to warm summer winds. The organization of the plan layout is governed by a formal north-south axis in the form of a gallery, and a perpendicular circulation route that links the various bedrooms. Two fireplaces rise up into the double volume space, and divide the two main living areas. The gallery visually terminates in a small rim-flow pool set in the pristine landscape. The living areas are linked with the outside patio areas by means of fold-away aluminium doors. The open-plan kitchen area serves as a link between the dining room, braai room and service areas. The main bedroom suite is located on the eastern side of the house, whilst the other bedrooms are on the first floor. The circulation on the first floor is also more generous, to allow this space to be used for other functions such as the exhibition of art and so on. The main bedroom suite on the ground floor functions as a complete unit with the adjacent study. The bedroom opens up onto a private garden while the first floor bedrooms have a large northern veranda. The house has been designed in such a way, that besides capitalizing on the views, various options for dealing with different weather conditions are available.
Early design concepts suggested a number of separate structures that would be connected with walls to suggest a hillside village. As the plan developed, the pitched roofs remained, whilst been connected with flat concrete roofs that allow light to penetrate the building and also offering the opportunity to manipulate the scale on the inside of the house.