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  • River, River, Carry Me On


    Spend enough time visiting homes in Westville and you will begin to appreciate that many houses here are different to most of the cookie cutter stuff you will find elsewhere. There’s an architectural vibe that is not far removed from the kind of homes Frank Lloyd Wright was famed for designing in his mid-century heyday. One such home came into my assignment orbit at the start of 2024 and it is a real doozy.

     

    This home, situated in wonderful Audley Road, is a face brick masterpiece where every room in the house has it’s own unique persona. It’s hard to imagine how this can be, but from the moment you walk in you’re seeing things that are very unique to this house. A small tributary stream of the Palmiet river weaves its way through the entrance path to the front door, surrounded by tropical shrubs and palms. At the front door there is also a modernistic slant on the stained glass features that you will find in some other mid-century homes in Durban. I’ve never seen this kind of stained glass design in any other home.

     

    The walls inside the home are mostly unplastered brick, but some have been painted clean white. In each room there are aspects of this brickwork that form design details, such as a stepped sloping ceiling in the office, as well as many shelving areas that are built into the brickwork. There’s a double sided fireplace, behind which you have what architects call a “snug”. Situated slightly lower than the main lounge, the snug has a semi-circular design with seating built into the walls. On rainy days you could lose yourself with a good book and a roaring fire here, while listening to the river that is merely a few meters from the front of the house. I can’t imagine anything more tranquil than that.

     

    Other interesting architectural features include transom-like windows at the apex of the many roofs of the main building as well as an outdoor atrium between the main en-suite bathroom and master bedroom. There’s a shower in there too. Speaking of showers, the two bathrooms share a capsule shaped shower that has separate doors for each bathroom. Never seen anything like that before!

    Some people might be concerned about the proximity to a river given the kind of weather events we have had in recent years, but honestly, if this house survived those events (and comfortably it would seem) it’s going to take something truly biblical flood-wise to make an impact here. The river frontage is really what stole my heart when I was photographing this assignment. You have your own private “beach” steps away from the front of the house, secluded enough to enjoy privately. Not sure if you will find any fish in there, but maybe you can be your own fish and chill out in one of the little rock pool eddy’s.

     

    Check out the Matterport tour here (this will likely stop working 3 months from the time of this post). 

     

     

    FYI, the title of this post is a lyric from Peter Gabriel’s beautiful song “Washing Of The Water”, a firm favourite of mine. 

     

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    Tech notes: all images bar two were shot with the Panasonic G9 and Leica 8-18mm. The shot of the house from across the river was with the DJI Mini Pro 4 drone and the shot of the candles on the dining table was with the Olympus 12-40mm 2.8 PRO. 

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