Stellenbosch Retreat

Project Summary

Transformative Restoration” is the concept of re-imagining the historical spaces within a contemporary context. The York Farm site on  Boschendal has structures that are less than 60 years old but have heritage significance from the spa*al displacements of the farm labourers that occurred on the site in the early 1990s. This gives the site and existing buildings a socio-cultural heritage significance rather than a built form heritage significance.

The motive for Transformative Restoration is to aGempt to redress the history of spatial displacements without compromising its cultural significance. The existing cottage forms are restored to form the foundation from which the new retreat programme emerges. The heritage forms become the historical exoskeleton onto which the contemporary forms are anchored.

This approach preserves the cultural significance of the original coGages whilst guiding the form of the new structures. Navigating through the new buildings then becomes a journey through the history of the coGages and landscape through to the present. Bertha guests share in an experience of understanding the cultural significance of the existing coGages and at the same *me enjoying the new accommodation within the new contemporary buildings.

In the proposed design layout, there is a storytelling journey from reception to the conference block through heritage courtyards, that narrates the history of the site and surrounding landscape. Transformative Restoration is a celebration of cultural heritage enhanced through new built forms . This concept is aimed at expanding on the Restorative Development approach within the greater Boschendal Farm.


The existing cottages are memorialised and remembered in two ways to achieve transformative restoration. Spaces within the coGage envelope are displaced to outside the existing envelope creating spaces within the coGages that show and use the existing fabric to remember the cultural significance of the coGages and further represent the displacement of the labourers and people who once occupied the coGages. Entrance and Circulation zones are created by offseWng the new forms from the existing envelope walls, these zones are then used to represent the transition of the existing buildings to the new function of the retreat. The zones again create spaces that observe and remember the cultural significance of what happened here. These interventions are further used to and reinforced by the Bertha principle of access and remembrance of rarefied spaces.


The existing lines of the existing coGages are retained and then extended and echoed to create a system of forms that are used to represent the different functions of the various spaces in the retreat for the purposes of legibility. The existing lines are used to formulate and shape the new forms outside of the coGages.


Adaptive reuse is now well known and common practice around the world where structures that have heritage significance are given a new life by superimposing modern and contemporary programmes over the existing programme, this very often results in extremely successful buildings with new and old working seamlessly together. The example below is a good example of where modern shapes and materials are neatly inserted into a beautiful old facebrick wall. The challenge with the York farm coGages as an adaptive reuse model is that the existing
coGages have very liGle architectural value and are built with inferior materials and suspect technology but on the other hand have an extremely important cultural significance.

The adaptive reuse approach that has been used in this instance is to firstly restore the existing structures as shells and then to insert utilitarian farm structures that use the forms and materials of these types of buildings found on farms in the area.


As mentioned above the materials of the new buildings will be taken from the pallet of materials of these types of building found on farms in the immediate area but also to use material resources found on the farm from stone cleared from the fields to alien tree


June 2, 2020


recreation architecture

Project Type

Recreation Architecture


Stellenbosch, Cape Town