In a land as diverse and expansive as South Africa, respecting tradition and the environment informs every aspect of life. When that intent translates into design, the aesthetic expression can be as monumental as the surroundings. AndBeyond Phinda Homestead, which reopened a year ago after a complete rebuild, is one such example.
Located in the South African province of KwaZulu-Natal, this sole-use safari villa is designed as a contemporary bush farmhouse — an architectural marvel that is subservient to the land. Fox Browne Creative, of Johannesburg and London, imagined a four-bedroom compound with ample living areas, both indoors and outdoors. The company’s design approach was one of sustainability and celebration of heritage. A flat roof design allows water to be collected and used for irrigation. Walls are crafted from repurposed railroad ties; rammed earth, including clay and sand from the nature reserve; and recycled timber. “The mud from the reserve was painstakingly done in layers,” villa manager William De Jager says. “It’s an incredible piece of economics.”
The bespoke interiors combine blunt lines — both in terms of architecture and furniture — with locally sourced artisan goods. All art is by South African artists, including the woven tables and baskets crafted by the local Zulu people. In a nostalgic gesture that straddles the contemporary and traditional, the draperies in the great room reimagine a painting of the bush landscape, custom transferred by Evolution Product. In the bath, the reed tassel curtains are sourced from a local roadside stall, and pottery and textiles come from regional co-ops in the KwaZulu-Natal Midlands.
“The design is all iconic moments,” De Jager says, “all to celebrate the local culture.” The motif opens up to nature, and often invites it. The infinity-edge pool, for example, juts out into the bush and sometimes attracts wildlife — the very reason guests come here in the first place. andbeyond.com
Photography Courtesy of andBeyond, Johannesburg, South Africa
Text: Daphne Nikolopoulos