Moonlight and fynbos
Home South Africa|December 2021/January 2022
Under a huge old pine tree, a family has built an off-the-grid cabin where a contemporary geodesic dome and reclaimed materials are in harmony with nature.
By Marian van Wyk, Photography by Greg Cox and supplied

When the going gets tough, the Kotze-Normann family gets creative. Just look at this geodesic dome cabin their second – on their farm La Bruyere, outside Tulbagh. This was the project that kept them busy during the 2020 lockdown, a team effort from Danie Kotze and his wife Jenny Normann, their two adult sons Thor and Christopher, and their partners, Christine Johnston and Rosa Bishenden-Moon.

Having spent a couple of years in the UK, Christopher now lives on La Bruyere, where Danie farms full-time and Jenny runs their guest cottages and Sunset Dome, their first family-built geodesic dome cabin. And after his travel bug saw him visit more than 35 countries, Thor settled in Cape Town where he runs his online shops, TenCape Trading and The Beach Bums.

“It was in Bali, Japan and Sri Lanka that I realised quirky and unique places always become favourites,” says Thor. Given the popularity of their Sunset Dome, which is fully booked a year in advance on Airbnb, it was only logical that their next cabin would also be a geodesic dome, or geodome as it’s commonly referred to.

The site for Moonrise Dome, high up on a hill, is a favourite spot where Thor and Christopher used to play as young boys. Jenny explains: “Marked by a big tree and surrounded by indigenous fynbos and renosterbos, the site is steep with panoramic mountain and valley views. The challenge was to design something that snuggled in with what was there and, at the same time, create a unique and unusual atmosphere.”

Perched high on a hill on the Kotze-Normann family farm, the Moonrise Dome has spectacular views of the valley all the way to Wolseley in the distance and the Witzenberg Mountains. Peeking out behind the dome is the treehouse, which provides an additional bedroom. Geodome from TenCape Trading

WHO LIVES HERE? Danie Kotze and Jenny Normann, their son Christopher Normann and his partner Rosa Bishenden-Moon

WHERE Tulbagh

SIZE about 70m2 (geodome and den)

The deck rests on stilts made from large utility poles. When the sun casts a golden glow on the valley below, the effect is magical. Deck and timber structure sealed with Woodgard Timbapreservative; lanterns from Mr Price Home; accent colour around the door and window frames is Plascon Crazy Daisy

On the job

“It was very much a go-with-the-flow project,” Thor says. Other than Jenny, who studied architecture, none of the family members have a design background. “Inspiration came in many forms – from my travels, unique pieces of furniture that Danie found at auctions or vintage stores, and online.”

By building a timber deck as a base for the geodome, there was minimal disruption to the natural surroundings, and they could create a cabin with a penthouse-like bedroom and a bay window to frame the dramatic views. Thanks to the gradient of the site, the space underneath was easy to enclose as a living area and kitchen.

The geodome DIY kit was ordered via Thor’s TenCape Trading business and although the family had no idea when it would be delivered due to the hard lockdown, they started building in April 2020 with the help of some of the farm’s staff members.

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