Project name: River Cottage, Crocodile river

Location: Letsema farm, Johanesburg, South Africa

Date completed: December 2018

Architect: Joe van Rooyen

Interior Designer: Joe van Rooyen

Construction Company: Atcor

An old river stone cottage overlooking the crocodile river was re-imagined and re-used by JVR Architects & Interiors to define the centre of a new residence in Johannesburg. The old charm of the simple river stone building led JVR Architects to use the existing structure and material to define what would become the central living space of the new house. Three of the original stone walls were retained and now define the kitchen, scullery, dining and living area. The remaining round river stone was recycled to clad the rest of the main house whilst additional river stone was also sourced from the river below. Inside, the interior finishes are a juxtaposition of raw and refined, where wooden trusses and chipboard ceilings are exposed with fine metalwork as bracing.

JVR were given the task of creating a haven where the clients could relax and connect with nature, specifically using the existing stone cottage that was used in recent years as a storeroom, as basis for the new design. This was achieved by using the extant elements to define the orientation and flow of the rest of the house. River Cottage accommodates family living and encourages interaction with both the surrounding environment and each other in the communal areas, but also provides privacy when needed. The project that has been designed creates a rhythmic experience of looking in and looking out, providing an intimate contrast of the enclosed area against big open spaces.

Re-purposing existing material, honouring old trees, and carefully framing the unique views of the landscape, has resulted in Joe Van Rooyen creating a modern work that retains the pre-existing allure of the original river stone cottage. The client had asked JVR Architects & Interiors to create a simple and contemporary design that would also respect and incorporate into the design the existing trees and outcrops of the site; River Cottage’s relaxed and nature-focused design scheme encompasses the whole project and brings cohesion to all aspects.

JVR Architects & Interiors