Sub-terranean Refuge


The allure of The Folly

A steep climb to the top of a hill on the KZN North Coast is the path that leads to The Folly. Unassuming and alluring, this sub-terranean refuge is an extension to a family home that embodies a lifestyle striving towards splendid otium. Despite the challenges that awaited them, such as limited access and the inability to take machinery up onto the hill during construction (to name but a few), Common Architecture applied an unwavering dedication to take what might have seemed ridiculous and turn it into something marvelous. It is no wonder that this intriguing project won the SAIA KZN Award for Architecture and the President’s Award.


A hidden haven

After seven years in their house in Dunkirk Estate, the family that calls this site home was looking to create an additional annex behind their house, envisioning a studio, cellar, and party venue. The objective was to create a tranquil haven, a silent enclave to cultivate creativity. The notion of unseen elegance defines The Folly’s discreet integration within its surroundings. Restrained architectural elements and a subdued brutalist-inspired aesthetic enhance its allure, offering an intriguing and immersive experience for those who inhabit it, and achieving a captivating presence that harmonises with its context without imposing on it.


Crafting elemental harmony

The choice of materials for The Folly follows a philosophy of simplicity. Concrete, with its robustness and durability, forms the foundation of the sturdy walls and ceiling. Timber adds warmth and organicity, adding a touch of inviting comfort. Steel elements punctuate the space, lending a sophisticated flair to the space. Chromatic patterns integrate seamlessly with the surroundings, embracing the greens of nature. This essential selection of materials and colours underwent meticulous consideration–resulting in a composition that seeks to enhance the serenity and beauty of the space.

The site plays a pivotal role in the design process, serving as both a backdrop and a source of inspiration for the architecture.  It was crucial to honour and respect the significance of the space throughout the entire design journey. The concept hence revolves around preserving the distinctive experience of sitting on the hill that the owners cherished. Rather than overpowering or erasing this sensation, the architecture aims to delicately enhance and amplify it. This specific requirement became the focal point, guiding the architectural vision and ensuring a seamless integration with the surrounding environment.


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