This was one of the first times I explored the townhouse concept. I liked the idea of playing with a traditional Eastern Cape metaphor, so Carriage Cove harks back to the rows of terraced houses in Donkin Street in Port Elizabeth - picking up Victorian elements, like the veranda, the roof gables, parapets, and so on, in a more contemporary home.
I was amazed at the amount of privacy you could get by having buildings semi-detached. The solid wall between buildings actually ended up giving us a lot more privacy than would densely-packed detached homes. Also, by angling the buildings so that you end up with a stepped front façade, no one can see anyone else from their front veranda.
The celebration of a sun trap in the courtyard was very important, because the building faces straight into the South Easter. I knew a lot of living was going to take place in the courtyard, and that on those beautiful calm days, one wanted to live right through the building, with the lounge and dining room able to flow right through from the sun trap at the back to the view at the front.
There are two axes in the house. One runs from the scullery, through the kitchen, dining room, lounge, and out the big bay window facing into the garden. The other runs perpendicular to this, from the covered braai area at the rear, through the dining room and out over the breakfast terrace in the front, to catch the early morning light. The flow between the public spaces of the house works very nicely, and we are able to cater for parties of over 100 people. It's a house that works well with a lot of people, and equally well when living alone in it.
When we moved to the plot, the hill in front of the house, facing the sea, was a naked sand dune, with not a single tree. We planted everything you now see between the house and the sea-facing site boundary, which is a great testament to the virility of our Eastern Cape thicket, and has again established that interface between buildings and nature that I love.
For me, the biggest success of the house is its ability to deal with the wind, and the way it celebrates the sun.