Nestled in the heart of the famed Cradle of Humankind World Heritage Site lies the Roux home, “Reflection”, an immensely ambitious landscaping and architectural undertaking that is now one of the country’s most inspired living spaces. In a valley of vast biological and archaeological riches, the property unfolds over 6ha of painstakingly restored highveld vegetation.
A simple metal gate slides open to reveal a spectacular driveway whose edges are bounded by intricate water features, lakes, streams, waterfalls, springs, pools, water staircases, and thousands of water lilies. The extensive waterworks, completed by Iwan Roux, who is one of the country’s few master dam builders, echo the natural features of the landscape. In their curves and bends they reveal the riverbed’s ancient dolomitic rock that has lain hidden for years, now becoming a natural sculpture between rolling lawns.
Patrick Watson is Roux’s long-time landscaping partner. For this project, Watson also designed Roux’s home, looking to the country sheds and greenhouses typical of the area for inspiration. The architecture uses humble, traditionally utilitarian materials such as timber slatting, exposed steel, sheet plastic, and poured concrete to create a connection between the landscape and one of its architectural relics: the original 1800s farm cottage.
The result is a stunning low-slung, shed-inspired home that is seamlessly integrated into the landscape. It sits within a protective perimeter wall that offers privacy from the elements for the family and ensures that unwelcome wildlife, such as native pythons and bush pigs, do not interfere with the living spaces. For this highly personal project, the focus was placed on family living, with architectural spaces that connect with the outdoors at every moment and textures that use leather, stone, and wide panels of glass to integrate the landscape into the home.
When considering interiors that would help bring the architecture to life, Irene Roux looked to their surroundings for inspiration. By combining new and old, as well as nature and technology, she has created a space that is utterly glamorous and exudes charm and warmth — the perfect place to raise their two young sons. Her deft hand effortlessly combines elegant Ligne Roset seating with steel, outdoor furniture, and carved, sculptural timber elements to create a luxuriously natural design language that is maintained in every room of the home. Futuristic automation and other technological elements bring the space into the future, but it is always grounded by natural accessories such as the giant quartz crystals found on walks in the garden.
The Roux family started developing the land some 20 years ago. Over time, they have worked to redirect an underground spring into the numerous lakes and water features, transforming the once-swampy marshland into a serene parkland. Space has been created for wildlife protection, such as the substantial bird islands set within the organic-shaped lakes, where local birdlife can flourish.
Roux enthuses: “When you get here from Joburg, there’s magic to the property; I think because you wouldn’t expect it to be where it is. When I came to the area for the first time as a student, I had an opportunity to live on the property, and I remember driving down the Cradle Road — a dirt road back then — and I couldn’t believe that this existed so close to the city. We took something that was really good, but a bit of a rough diamond, and polished the hell out of it. Now it’s shining.”
• From the July edition of Wanted, 2023.