Going green, Lowveld style
From rooftop gardens that create oxygen to rammed earth walls and LED lights, this is how the Lowveld does sustainable living.
Named after its eco-friendly features and style, the home aptly called Green Verandah, sticks out like a healthy thumb alongside its neighbours in Mbombela’s ‘The Rest Nature Estate’.
Rammed earth walls, concrete, wood, glass and steel are just a few of the materials used in the exterior, displaying a modern and highly stylised impression that continues indoors. The finish is further enhanced by natural elements typically found in the Lowveld, including Spekboom in the roof gardens, aloes in the front garden, a citrus orchard and four indigenous trees that were protected during construction and now form part of the smart structure.
“The main idea for the design of the house was to show my clients that going green is a viable and responsible choice,” says owner and architect, Klippie du Toit. “Concrete is my favourite material. Not only for its long life cycle but also for its character. I like to show materials for what they are, instead of hiding them. So with Green Verandah I’ve tried to stick to the honesty of the materials and show what I’ve used.”
The home consists of three bedrooms, three bathrooms, an open plan living area, an outdoor entertainment deck with a small swimming pool (a must-have in the sweltering Lowveld summer), a double garage and wine cellar. Each of the different spaces represent Klippie’s keen eye for contemporary design – Meranti bi-fold doors in the entrance foyer, custom made teal coloured cabinetry in the kitchen, wooden louvred windows in the bedrooms, a polished concrete fireplace in the lounge and quirky decor items throughout (including an ottoman made with hessian sacks, a designer lamp from Amsterdam and a framed work of propaganda art from Hanoi, Vietnam). The result is an ingenious, masculine space that is both cozy and classy.
Style and decor aside, this home is impressively eco-friendly and reflects the green philosophy of Klippie’s firm, EarthSwitch Architecture. Bioclimatic design principles such as the particular placement of the windows and their orientation, the shape of the building’s structure, the insulation of the floors and certain walls, as well as the roof gardens, all aid in insulation, cross ventilation and maximise light. These materials were also specifically chosen to work with the climate of the area.
Two roof gardens, planted with Spekboom, reduce heat-gain from the roof and also assist to reduce the property’s carbon footprint (Spekboom has an exceptional ability to remove large amounts of carbon dioxide from the air and convert it into oxygen). Corrugated steel water tanks capture rainwater from the roof and feed it to the toilets and swimming pool, while four solar panels and batteries supply electricity to the majority of the home. All water heating is done by means of a 190l integrated heat pump. What’s more, the rammed earth walls made from the earth excavated from the site, the indigenous garden, the use of LED lights and the extended life cycles of the materials used in the build, all contribute to this fashionably green home.
If you’re thinking about building a home that’s eco-friendly too, we’d recommend you check out the Green Building Council (GBC) where you’ll find, amongst other incredibly helpful suggestions, a comprehensive list of architects, building contractors, engineers, quantity surveyors and building product manufacturers and distributors around SA that are accredited with the GBC. The GBC is a not-for-profit company established in 2007 that aims to promote environmentally sustainable buildings.
Klippie’s little black book:
- Design and drawings by EarthSwitch Architecture, Mpumalanga
- Solid timber floors and outside deck by Lowveld Hardwood Flooring & Decking, Mpumlanga
- Solar power system and heat pump by Power & Energy Solutions, Mpumalanga
- Balustrades by Duratrend, Mpumalanga
- Kitchen and custom light fittings by Ebeniste, Mpumalanga
Photos Francois van Zyl, Hilton Kotze