Cape Dutch Architecture

House Plans

Early Cape Dutch house plans were built in sections one room wide, usually about 6m wide and never wider than 7.5m. The weight of the roof tends to push the walls outward, technically termed lateral thrust. This lateral thrust in the roof of the Cape Dutch house would have pushed the walls over, if the span was wider than 7.5m. This limitation on the width of the roofs actually gave rose to much of the charm and unity of the Cape Dutch style homes. At first, the houses were simple rectangles consisting of three rooms: the kitchen, the living room and a bedroom. The L-shaped house plan was the obvious next development for Cape Dutch house plans. A yard could be neatly tucked between the main house and the one wing.

At about the same time, round the beginning of the 18th century, the T-shaped house plan started emerging. The kitchen was usually housed in the tail of the building, so that the chimney ran up the back end-wall. The room in front of the kitchen became the dining and living area. Later in the 18th century, the earliest I-shaped house plans began to appear in the Cape. The earliest known I-shaped house plan is at Vergelegen. In the early I-shaped plan, one enters between two rooms into a hall with a screen behind it. Beyond the screen, one continues to the living area, where light streams in from the other side. This house plan was fashionable until the end of the 18th century, when the late I-plan became more popular. The late I-plan seems like a fairly obvious development from the T-shaped house, by the addition of back wings, to the kitchen tail. La Provence, Rhone and Boschendal, are good examples these Cape Dutch House Plans. Houses with U-shaped house plans are most common in and around Cape Town. There are several versions of the U-shaped house plan, depending on whether the courtyard created in the middle was roofed over or not. As one travels further from Cape Town, there is a tendency to see more wings and outbuildings added in various configurations. Many of these are additions, as the original Cape Dutch houses were almost always symmetrical.

Modern interpretations of the Cape Dutch style are usually in a U-shape or I-shape, with a wider gap in the middle to accommodate the pool and a covered patio. The modern house plans below are by Beverley Hui Architects.