IMAGE BY: ADAM LETCH

BUFFELSDRIFT FARM BLENDS HERITAGE WITH VISION IN THE KLEIN KAROO​

Buffelsdrift Farm, renovated by SAOTA and Jaco Booyens Architect, has been reimagined to highlight heritage and a mix of construction techniques in the Klein Karoo.

Located west of Ladismith in the arid Klein Karoo region, Buffelsdrift Farm sits as a cluster of Cape buildings in a valley beneath the Swartberg mountain range. 

Characteristic of South African culture, the site has born a mixture of different cultures and building techniques and now, under a tasteful renovation by SAOTA and Jaco Booyens Architect, Buffelsdrift Farm has been awarded a gold medal at the seventh edition of the International Domus Restoration and Conservation Award in Italy for the restoration of heritage buildings.

IMAGE BY: ADAM LETCH

The award, which recognises “excellence in the field of restoration, redevelopment and architectural and landscape recovery at an international level”, is a testimonial to the achievement of the full restoration which returned the site to the use of traditional construction techniques.

The restoration of the main house and two barns, plus a store. A short way off is a flat-roofed building, typical of the Ladismith style, which was originally used as a wine store. Other structures on the property include a contemporary shed, a cottage further up a hill and a graveyard. The house, barns and wine store were all restored.

SAOTA director Greg Truen, who acquired the farm in 2016, notes that while minor additions and modern alterations had been made to the buildings, the original house, was “in good condition, considering” and that the barns were “fundamentally untouched”.

Greg purchased Buffelsdrift Farm with the view to take the neglected property and turn it into a functional olive farm. The four hectares of fallow lucern fields opposite the main house were additionally intended to be rehabilitated and planted. 

Architect Jaco Booyens brought his experience to bear on the project, highlighting his experience and insight into clay construction and working to retain the original history and heritage surrounding the site.

“Greg was looking for somebody that knows clay buildings and knows how to work with clay materials, so he gave me a call”, says Jaco. “We’re trying to keep the clay parts of the old structures, to take it back to how we think it might have looked (before)”.

Greg and Jaco’s vision aligned. “A lot of these buildings have been modernised, and a lot of them are simply falling apart due to neglect. I think it’s important that some of them are held together – it’s such a unique heritage for this part of the country”, says Greg.

For Greg, who was raised on sugar estates in Swaziland and Kwa-Zulu Natal and his partner, Nancy Kashimoto, who was born in Lusaka raised in London, the renovation of Buffelsdrift farm enabled the couple to enkindle their romance and bring together their divergent backgrounds into a home that expressed both synergy and individual identity.

“It’s been an amazing journey bringing us together, and bringing this house together… I’d always been very intrigued by this part of the country and I’ve always felt it would be interesting to have something out here, so it all just sort of came together and fell into place”, concludes Greg.

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