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Adaptive Re-Use of the Upper Platteklip Wash House

Cape Town, Western Cape, South Africa

2022 - Concept

This stone heritage building dates back to 1888 and is situated on the iconic Platteklip River which used to provide fresh water to the early Cape Colony. Two of these wash houses were built alongside the stream to provide a more hygienic place for the washer women to do their domestic laundry. The upper wash house is the focus of this concept proposal.

SAN Parks approached AVNA to put together a concept proposal to renovate the building into suitable semi-luxury long stay accommodation units. The existing building is currently utilised as hiking accommodation with dormitories and smaller communal sleeping and living areas. The new design needed to take into account the heritage aspect of the building whilst proposing the most cost effective solution for this renovation project.

Seven smaller units and one family unit where created by dividing the building up. Each unit has a master bedroom and an upstairs bedroom consisting of two single beds. A previously dark interior will be lightened up by the addition of roof lights in key positions as well as a white coat of paint to the ceiling and walls. The introduction of a proper stairway leading to the upper floor allows for easier circulation. The living space was maximised by reducing the size of a previously extra-large bathroom. New glass entry doors inside aluminium shopfronts will allow further natural light into the space. The family unit has two master bedrooms and two upstairs rooms; there is a generous living area and two bathrooms, one being universally accessible.

The second part of the brief was to formalise the outside seating and braai areas for each living unit. This was to be done without detracting from the character of the heritage structure. Sloped timber privacy screens where carefully placed, not to touch, but merely float past the old stone walls. Pergolas provide overhead semi-shaded areas for certain units.

The third part of the project was to address the external facades of the existing SAN Parks offices, which were recent additions to the old heritage building. The proposal looks at formalising the entrance with a new low stone wall and landscaping to highlight the entrance path. This will lead to a new front door and overhead canopy. New paint colours, more appropriate to the building, have been selected to separate the old heritage structure from the newer addition.

The status of the project is undergoing costing exercises.


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