I spotted this building on a street corner in Malmesbury. This is one of the typical white Cape Dutch homes that is such a feast for the eye because of the clean symmetry. Of course this style originated in the Netherlands, but in a very different way and developed here over the years in our own gracefully unique style. In Dutch cities we can still see tall narrow buildings, several storeys high that are topped with gables. In South Africa with so much space available the building style transformed itself into spacious floor plans and usually a single storey. Because the rules of symmetry were followed, the homes were either long or in an H or a T shape.
The burghers had tiles for roofing at first, but those early tiles cracked in the harsh climate. Reeds was the best local material available and the roofs needed to be high-pitched to prevent water from settling on the roof and creating rot. Soon the white gables and high thatched roofs became characteristic of the Cape Dutch style. I mentioned in an earlier blog that the large gable also freed the front door from burning thatch blocking the entrance in the event of a fire.
High ceilings and thick walls lead to cool interiours. Flagstones that came over to the Cape as ships' ballast were used for the floors and sometimes highly polished. Windows are always higher than their width, and rhythmically placed.Today many of these homes are beautifully restored, authentically furnished and lived in or preserved as national monuments and museums.