Kasteelberg Nature Estate


KUBE architecture is compiling the architectural guidelines and concept for a new residential estate on the slopes of the Kasteelberg Mountain Estate just above the town of  Riebeek Wes in the Western Cape. 

The estate is envisioned as a rural enclave situated at the foot of the Kasteelberg, nestled amongst flowing vineyards and groups of Sugar gum trees, a stone’s throw away from the picturesque town of Riebeeck-West. The setting is accentuated by the seasonal character of the vineyard and the surrounding grain lands. The aim is to provide a living experience within a development where all the buildings and structures will reflect and respect the natural elements of this unique environment.


The rural landscape of the greater area is characterized by vineyards, orchards and wheat fields with typical cape barns and cement dams or corrugated water tanks dotted between. Vineyards set up an ordered, yet organic structuring system in the landscape, the neat rectilinear rows being interrupted sporadically by lazy streams or rocky outcrops. The vine rows respect the slope of the land while, at the same time attempting to maximize their exposure to the sun. Simple wooden trellises and rough hewn terraces along with water, fertile soil, brilliant sunshine and the unique local inhabitants make the valley a unique place.


The 5 Ha site which includes its own private portion of nature reserve offers breathtaking views and a real country living atmosphere. Fynbos, rock and water features will compliment the site’s natural beauty. Each of the 14 homes will be situated on a ± 1600 m² stand and 12 retirement cottages will also be incorporated at the lower end of the site with a 24-hour nursing facility attached.


Great care has been taken to blend the homes into the natural surroundings while at the same time allowing for individuality and maximizing views. No building will dominate another or draw unnecessary attention to itself. The key here would be “respect” – the mountain behind, the valley below and neighbours, side by side. The estate is fully secured and is the last remaining open land above the town to be incorporated into the new Urban Edge.
Terraces and thick, sturdy walls and retaining structures embedded along the incline will echo the strong rooting of vines in the sloping rocky soil. Stone terraces will order the slope; creating a solid base out of which the home will grow anchoring it to the landscape, while the lighter upper section of the residences imitate the trellis-like structures of the surrounding vineyards. Pergolas and timber screens will be features, functioning according to orientation and the weather. Each dwelling or structure will be broken down into a series of forms, the placement, height and scale of which will respond and adjust to the contours of the mountain.


The architectural guidelines compiled by KUBE architecture envisage a unique cohesive architectural character through the use of materials such as natural stone and timber common to the area. These guidelines allow for a range of individual choices in the external appearance of the houses but within certain parameters relating to those elements such as roof coverings, wall colours and boundary walls which are crucial in creating the overall atmosphere of the estate. Earthy colours and natural tones, complimenting the landscape are prescribed when choosing paint for surfaces. Owners will also be guided in the use and implementation of certain design features and systems to encourage a sustainable and energy saving lifestyle, for example: passive ventilation, water collection, green roofs, living walls etc. Private open spaces will be landscaped with olive groves, a water canal/stream and pathways for nature walks. Landscape architects, CNdV Africa will be responsible for the design and implementation of the landscaping concept.

The scale proportion and articulation of building forms are of great importance in the pursuit of a cohesive architectural character. A grouped or fragmented effect of buildings, with individual roofing, is expected rather than a large monolithic formation. This series of major plan forms will be connected by minor plan form element (s) and take the site topography into account. The addition of the minor plan forms will also contribute to the important awareness of human scale.


Composite rectangular forms with linear proportions will be aligned with the lengthwise elevation parallel to the long erf boundary. Dwellings will consist of rectangular major and minor plan forms connected to one another, and articulated with linking elements. Major plan forms will have individual mono pitched roofs of charcoal grey steel sheeting while concrete roofs over linking elements are finished with a layer of Worcester washed river pebbles. The plan elements will respond to the topography and orientation of the site and level changes are encouraged along the slope of the site. Semi-enclosed external areas can also qualify as part of major and minor plans, if roofed accordingly. Roof gardens are encouraged and could then qualify as a major plan forms and houses will be articulated with simple rectangular chimneys. Garage doors will be horizontally slatted timber and garage façades are to be suitably articulated.
The majority of the sites at Kasteelberg are steep and it is therefore imperative that the natural contours be taken into account when designing each house. The buildings will be visibly stepped over the site and thus remain predominantly single storey or split-level. To contribute to the visual horizontality and integrating nature of the estate, double storeys will only be allowed under the condition that the first floor is set back from the ground floor. Gabions are encouraged for retaining walls and demarcating terraced areas. No face brick, quoining or rustication or stone from outside the Riebeek valley will be permitted. Brick walls are allowed to be bagged and painted. Cor-ten steel may be used for cladding.


No portion of the building, except for chimneys, will be higher than 7.0 m measured vertically from the natural ground level. The ground storey finished floor level may not rise higher than 1.5 m above or below the natural ground level. The minimum wall plate height for a single storey portion of a building will be 2.6 m. Only 50% of the footprint of the building may be double storey. Double storeys will only be allowed in a major and/or minor floor plan. Overhanging eves will be allowed. For additional protection of large areas of glass from direct summer sunlight design resolutions such as pergolas, deciduous trees, etc be incorporated. Timber and aluminium windows and doors will be allowed finished according to the architectural guidelines. Timber horizontally slatted sliding screens are encouraged for filtering and directing sunlight.

Construction is planned to start early 2013 and we’ll be updating this post regularly so feel free to check back for the latest information.

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