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Housing and Plots

Every single eligible family unit will receive a home they can call their own. It has been problematic for both farm owners, but more so farm-workers. Farm owners are often reluctant to hire people, keeping employment levels in the agricultural sector dropping, as they fear the recourse of labour legislation once someone housed on their land is deemed further unemployable. Farm employees are insecure, as they have no ownership of their domicile and are at the mercy of someone else to dictate their security of land, shelter and future.

This housing initiative will solve both, giving farm employees security of tenure, peace-of-mind and securing their right to be the custodians of their own destiny.

It is hoped, this initiative will have the additional effect of giving farm owners more security when it comes to following labour laws and protocol, but will also aid in additional employment in the sector, as farmers no longer fear right to domicile disputes.

Housing units will be located in shared-wall pairs on 180m2 plots of 10m wide by 18m deep dimensions. It is proposed that each unit be at least 50m2 in size, providing a full-bathroom, two bedrooms and an open-plan living and dining area with a kitchenette. It is proposed that a rear “stoep” be provided. Given South African culture, it is important that an area is provided for outdoor cooking, dining and living activities.

Plots are set back 3m from the road curb, with the actual units being set-back by at least 4m, allowing for pedestrian access. The “stoep” is not to be closer than 6m from the rear plotline, allowing space for future home expansion at the family’s discretion. Most plots have a 2m buffer zone between their rear boundary and the rear boundary of the abutting plot, as to not overcrowd the space, should both units owners’ choose to build onto their homes.

It was chosen to build units in “twin” as to share a common wall for cost saving and optimal space usage. However, it was chosen not to group units together in clusters, as to create a “townhouse development atmosphere” as to not destroy the rural nature of the village and not crowd residents into an urban environment, to which they are not accustomed.

Architecture

Conceptual design of the low-cost row-houses

Conceptual design of the low-cost row-houses

A Cape Vernacular style of architecture will be followed in the building of housing units as well as community buildings. This will create stylistic harmony with the winelands environment and also give the community a look that the community members are familiar with. This architectural style of gables, rusticated walls and wood shutters will create warmth within the village. It is also the aim that the village dates well and facilitates a welcoming atmosphere for visitors to the winelands.

It is proposed that units not all be identical, but that a number of variations of the stylistic theme be followed. To create a sense of community, having a clinical atmosphere where every unit is identical would be detrimental. The aim is to create an organic look to the Fairhills Village, without losing the cleanliness and aesthetic harmony of the architecture.

The importance of the colour palate used for the buildings cannot be underestimated. The need for aesthetic harmony must be carefully married with the communities’ need for colour. Accents, like shutters, will create a burst of colour, with walls being harmoniously earth-toned to white with matching roofs. Gables and parapet walls will have subtle variation, as to make units look unique, without deviating from the overall stylistic theme of the Cape Vernacular.

Floorplan of the medium-sized unit

Floorplan of the medium-sized unit

It is proposed that “stoep” areas have pergolas with grape vines grown over them, to allow maximum light in winter and maximum shade in summer. This will also aid with the “softening” of the structures and the aesthetic appeal for residents and potential tourist traffic alike.

Most units are also orientated to specific cardinal direction, making the planning of windows and their subsequent treatments easy, to maximise northern sun exposure and usage of natural light in units, thereby keeping energy costs to a minimum.

Landscaping

A well-thought out landscaping plan will be followed within the community prior to occupancy. It is noticed that within most existing farm-housing compounds, alien invasive trees of low aesthetic value and of environmental harm are used to provide shade and garden structure. This cannot be allowed to happen in Fairhills Village. It is done so by farm employees, as with a low-income, buying trees of a beneficial nature is not within financial reach. Also, lack of botanical and environmental knowledge lends itself to the perpetuation of this practice.

Therefore, upon completion of construction, landscaping will be installed, helping the community in creating the green environment they need. Not only will this practice further the aesthetic agenda in creating pride of place, but will also keep down homes’ energy requirements and add to the comfort of residents.

A careful combination of indigenous and exotic non-invasive feature trees will be used to line avenues, adorn village squares and shade community and retail areas. It is envisioned that the village not look like a sub-economic housing development, but rather a gorgeously integrated winelands agro-village. Thus, the ubiquitous oaks, liquidambars and maples seen on wealthy estates in the region will lend to a proud and lush environment.

Many indigenous trees will be planted, attracting birds, insects and keeping the village in harmony with the environment. However, the majority of trees must be deciduous. The methodology behind this plan is to utilise the Cape’s climate for energy conservation purposes. With cool, wet winters and hot, dry summers, as much shade is needed from spring to autumn, but with the onset of winter, as much sunlight is needed as possible. The excess of solar energy allowed to reach houses and buildings in winter will keep the need for heating to a minimum. The excess of shade in summer will keep the need for artificial cooling down.

The additional aim is to create a village with seasonal aesthetic appeal, mirror the seasonal changeability of the work most of the community is involved in and obviously, to keep the community as comfortable as possible; cool in summer and warm in winter.

xSite Landscape

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