The case study home is a variation of our Response 1 design, with the layout and the orientation of roof and windows particular to the Muizenberg mountain-side site it is located on.

The property was once a section of the Klein Welgemeend farm estate, and was first developed in the early 1920’s. The original house, Ailsa Craig, was commissioned by Florence McLaren, a visionary woman who built her home out of on-site sandstone over a three-year period. The name itself a reference to an uninhabited granite island off the western coast of Scotland, the house was to be her rock island refuge that sat mediating the quarry that it was built from and the expansive view east.

Florence was a keen gardener and often proudly entered her terraced rocked landscaped garden into local competitions.  It was important that the intervention of the case study home did not intervene and distress the original character of the heritage home and property. 


The design of the Response 1 worked well with the architecture of the original home, with its steep pitch roof and exaggerated eaves. The gabled end was to face east to the rising sun, in the same orientation as the original home. It is delicately perched over two rock terraces, allowing for an entrance at the rear and a cantilevered projection on the front east side, reinforcing the relationship with the view. 

The larger window openings are located on the leeward north facade, while smaller framed glazed openings are located on the prevailing-wind south facade. Muizenberg experiences strong summer winds and, because of this, box window seats were preferred over deck terraces. The rock terraces at the rear provide outside refuge and intimate dining areas. 

The mass-timber, cross-laminated timber (CLT) structure is made of locally grown South African pine. It is also the internal finish of both walls and roof. Visible interior panels have been sanded and sealed with a water-based, non-toxic wood sealer that prevents UV degradation and the  yellowing of the timber. A solid larch tongue-and-groove floor was suspended over the CLT pine floor. The entire structure comprises an envelope of 77mm thick CLT which is protected by a highly breathable membrane. It optimises the wind tightness of the structure, protecting it from the entry of hot air in summer and cold air in winter. The density of the wood provides outstanding thermal resistance. The walls and floor achieve a thermal resistance of R 5.8. while the roof, with its additional layer of reflective membrane, achieves R 6.5. This is three times over the requirement of local building requirements. 


The front, stable door is a bespoke design and includes an iconography of this particular building's placement.  It is constructed of solid larch. Owl boxes and a bat roost complete the exterior. The owl house, from where the case study gets its name, is designed for barn owls that naturally frequent buildings for nesting. Bat roosts are located in the spandrels below the window openings. 

A variety of cladding options were selected for the exterior. Thermally-treated pine, profiled with wax emulsion, was selected for the main body of the exteriors to showcase a range of profiles and finishes available. The roof sheeting is a textured zinc-alum profiled sheeting with bespoke flashings.  Smooth-faced timber trims were incorporated around the double-glazing aluminium window openings to protect waterproofing seals and air-tightness tapes.

The internal footprint of the design is 6m x 4m (24 sqm) and provides for a generous open-plan living area with kitchenette and bathroom with level-access shower. A standing mezzanine (13 sqm) is provided over the bathroom, entrance hall and kitchenette area and provides for additional sleeping. The mezzanine is accessed by a purpose-made and adjustable stair ladder. The unit can accommodate 2 — 4 persons. 

The home has an independent, solar-generating AC electrical supply and store. Hot water and cooking is supplied via gas. Rainwater is discharged into the surrounding garden. 

The home has been designed with the flexibility to function was a home occupation/office and additional rental accommodation. If you are interested in a stay and would like to experience the benefits, craftsmanship and design of ANIMA’s homes, it is available for rent via this Airbnb link. 

Alternatively please get in touch if you would like to arrange a visit during the day.