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Cape Dutch Architecture

 

 

 

 

If you have an eye for architecture and history, of if you just enjoy beautiful buildings and towns, Stellenbosch is the perfect place to be! 

The early houses in Stellenbosch were built in the Cape Dutch style, this style is unique to the Cape and is unquestionably beautiful. The style has roots in mediaeval Holland, Germany, France and Indonesia. 

The early houses were single-storied. They usually consisted of three rooms in a row with steep roofs supported by rafters. Houses were generally built of local materials, thick walls were made of clay or rubble cemented with a lime-mortar, restios were used for thatching the roofs. 

In 18th century, with increasing prosperity, houses began to grow larger and more ornate. They began to reflect the growing wealth and ostentation of their owners. It was then that the front gable made its appearance, the front gable is one of the most distinctive features of the mature Cape Dutch Style. 

These houses were built to a symmetrical plan with a central door flanked by an even number of windows. Most houses had a central front room (voorkamer) into which the entrance led, from here doors led into the rooms on either side and sometimes to a back room (agterkamer). Later wings were added to the wealthier homes giving rise to U-plan and H-plan designs. Wonderful examples of these styles are to be found in and around Stellenbosch. 

Irrespective of the period, all the Cape Dutch houses were painted with whitewash, which when combined with the gray of the thatched roofs and the green of the trees and vines which have been planted around many of them gives them all a particular charm and beauty. 

Central Stellenbosch has many well preserved houses of this style, the majority of them are still in use, and there is a series of four buildings that have been made into a museum where you can see the furnishings and styles of different periods.