A hidden gem on the slopes of the Helderberg

Hidden Valley Wine Farm, located on the slopes of the Helderberg Mountain near Stellenbosch in Cape Town, has a gentle approach to their craft, leaving much up to the dance between soil and climate to dictate the outcome of their highly acclaimed wine and olive produce. It made sense, then, that their brief for luxury cabin accommodation on site called for timber frame construction, not only for natural aesthetic appeal, but for environmental considerations as well.

Nestled in a valley rich in indigenous flora and fauna, Hidden Valley Wine Farm’s architecture pays careful homage to its surrounds. With much the same approach to commissioning the guest accommodation on the farm, Rustic Homes, leaders in timber frame construction, were briefed to build two luxury wooden cabins, including a deck and pool area seamlessly connecting the two, above the farm’s olive groves.

The site chosen for construction of the main lodge and two-bedroom cottage was along an overgrown and unused farm road, which was the only level piece of available land on the steeply sloping estate. Much as the old road dictated the path its users took in years gone by, it came to set the stage for the configuration of the two cabins.

The foundations of the project innovatively deviate from timber frame construction convention due to the unique requirements of the build, which rests instead on custom-made light-steel bases supported by concrete columns.

Timber frame construction was an ideal solution to the challenges posed by the sloping, hard-to-reach site. Thanks to its lightweight properties and ease of prefabrication off site, the structural components could be transported to site and erected with minimal impact on the surroundings and a relatively brief turnaround time as compared with traditional building methods.

The exterior of the cabins is cladded in hard-wearing and weather-resistant Eucalyptus marginata, or jarrah as it is more commonly known, as are the sliding screens shielding west-facing windows and doors from the afternoon sun. Jarrah also finds a home on the interior floors as well as in accents around the cabins.

Untreated balau (Shorea laevis) timber was used for the decking component of the project and has been left untreated so as to weather to an attractive natural silvery grey. Stainless steel cable railings complete the deck area without creating any impression of it being closed off from its surrounds.  

Exposed timber roof trusses lend airy volume to the interior and rafters extending from the inside out contribute a sense of simple continuity to the project that blurs the line between interior and exterior, a feature underpinning the structures’ main purposes of leisure and entertainment.

The main lodge includes living and dining rooms, kitchen and bedroom, and is elegantly separated from the cottage with a beautiful deck area that overlooks exquisite westerly views, which on occasion boast gratifying glimpses of Table Bay.

Surrounded by vineyards and olive groves resting on ancient soils and breathing deeply of the nearby sea air, the lodge and cottage at Hidden Valley Wine Farm represent a gentle and well-considered nod to their surrounds, not only by means of a light environmental footprint, but an exterior in harmony with its environs.

        For more information, visit www.rustichomes.co.za.

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About Rustic Homes:
Having pioneered the design and construction of timber houses in South Africa, Rustic Homes is firmly established as a leading player in the market. While timber construction is not new to South Africa, in recent history it has been limited to a few unimaginative options, which all changed with the advent of Rustic Homes.

"In an industry which never quite achieved a consumer breakthrough, it was the style of Rustic Homes that in the late '80s finally captured the imagination of the South African market." ~ John Mortimer, former SALMA Executive Director and Dean of the Faculty of Forestry, Stellenbosch.

The inspiration behind the establishment of Rustic Homes came from an historical connection; Pieter Silberbauer, co-founder of the company with Clive Joseph, spent many of his school holidays at his great-grandmother's beautiful timber home, 'Redlands' built in 1864, and at his grandparents' home, 'Rheenendal'.

Silberbauer was fascinated by the wealth of timber structures in the area and how the 'Redlands' homestead captivated the imagination of all who visited it. He wondered why the 'modern day' timber homes of the '60s and '70s lacked the charm of these beautiful structures from a bygone era and so, after attaining a BSc in Wood Science and after completing a two-year stint in Australia where timber construction is the norm, Pieter returned to South Africa with the firm commitment to change things.

Today Rustic Homes has a new owner, Werner Slabbert, who comes with over 16 years of experience in building timber homes. With abundant experience and great passion, Rustic Homes will continue to achieve success and do the great work that it was set out to do.

Rustic Homes contact:
Werner Slabbert
Tel: 082 565 6561

Media contact:
Jennifer Rees
Häss&DAS Brand Factory
Cell: 076 119 8819