The project began with a client brief by rock-climber enthusiasts who wanted to escape the hustle and bustle of daily life in favor of a simple, off-grid tiny home where they could focus on the health of themselves and their ailing son. With this goal in mind, the clients brought in architect Nadine Engelbrecht to overcome the obvious site challenges and deliver their new home, called Cottage Rock. 

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A two-level home with stone accents, large windows and a patio leading to a green lawn.

Located in Pretoria’s Tierpoort in South Africa, the building lot had little to offer as far as accessibility. The only way to access the site was on foot, and even that required dedication. The site was wedged between usable farmlands and had no agricultural value. So the first several months involved excavating a rustic road into the building site, which put limitations on the supplies and how they were delivered.

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A decorated living room with white walls and dark wood accents. Large sliding glass doors connect the space to the outdoors.

A press release from the architect said, “Due to the steep and winding road only 3m3 concrete trucks and maximum 8m long trucks could be used to supply materials. Building materials had to be planned accordingly and a 15m length steel H-column had to be cut into three lengths and reassembled.”

A decorated living room with a gray sofa, white walls and brick and dark wood accents. A staircase in the background leads upstairs. Large sliding glass doors connect the space to the outdoors.

On the build site, emphasis was placed on preserving and reusing the copious amounts of large sandstone boulders throughout the property. Designers incorporated them throughout the landscaping and into the exterior of the house to use as a climbing wall. For minimal site impact, the footprint of the house was limited to 86 square meters, yet the home remains cozy with two loft bedrooms and an open living space below. 

An overhead view of the living room.

A tight budget and desire to respect the natural surrounding environment guided the decision to use reclaimed steel windows, raw concrete for floors and walls, and stone. The team also incorporated raw bricks and cement-washed walls. With a primary goal to eliminate chemicals, pesticides, herbicides and fungicides, all materials were used in unprocessed forms. 

Large sliding glass doors that open onto a bright patio surrounded by greenery.

Catering to the client’s wish for a home that opened up to the outdoors, Cottage Rock employs retractable doors on both sides of the house to invite natural light and ventilation and erase the lines between indoors and outdoors. 

A backyard garden with stone planters.

Cottage Rock is also completely off-grid. A rainwater collection system funnels water into a storage tank beneath the patio. Passive design elements provide natural temperature control and meet the client’s request for extremely low operating costs for the future of the home. 

+ Nadine Engelbrecht Architecture 

Via ArchDaily 

Images via Marsel Roothman