Kalk Bay, Cape Town
Warm mediterranean climate with mild, moderately wet winters and dry, warm summers.475mm rainfall
165sqm Food Forest
Rain Water & Ground water Harvest & Filtration
Cape Town has very hot and dry summers, meaning that 35 000l of water was required per month to irrigate the 160sqm food forest. A borehole was the chosen solution. To ensure that it was sustainable it was shared with 2 neighbours and a comprehensive groundwater recharge strategy was put in place with all stormwater run-off channeled into the soil.
Water Saved p/year
CO2-e Saved p/year
Rainwater Captured p/year
Exploring Urban Sustainability
The Nook is an off-grid eco-home situated in Kalk Bay, Cape Town, South Africa. The home is a 1980 Timber frame construction that was renovated in 2016 with the aim of making it off-grid, sustainable and resilient to climate change. At the same time, it was important to showcase that this can all be done whilst still maintaining a beautiful aesthetic as well as increasing the homes market value. The Nook is the home of Andrew Jamieson, owner of Leaf & Stone, and his family.
All wooden flooring seen above is either stone pine or gum, both alien vegetation that was cleared and obtained cheaply. The plaster in the bathrooms and kitchen is Tadelakt, an ancient Morrocan lime & sand rendering that is waterproof, beautiful and low impact (sand obtained on site). All furniture, shelves seen above are made from reclaimed Oregon Pine.
“Sitting at our back doorsteps, all we need to live a good life lies about us. Sun, wind, people, buildings, stones, sea, birds and plants surround us. Cooperation with all these things brings harmony, opposition to them brings disaster and chaos." - BILL MOLLISON
There are 3 main facets to off-grid living. Energy, water and dealing with your waste. The nook is partly off-grid, as it has off-grid water and deals with all waste on-site but the owners are still waiting to put the Solar power in place.
“We wanted to do everything we could first to make the home as efficient as possible in order to see how much power we needed to cater for with Solar.”
- Andrew Jamieson
The Eco Renovation
The home was 32 years old when it was bought and was in a poor state and in much need of maintenance. In 2016 we did renovations to the house before moving in.
The primary objectives were to make it more energy-efficient and to make it a beautiful and functional home.
- Rhinowood was used to reclad the exterior. Rhinowood is made from sustainably grown pine and is treated with biodegradable wax. It doesn’t need to be oiled or varnished and has a live span of 40 years +. www.rhinowood.co.za
- The walls where insulated with recycled plastic fibre.
- Cleared Alien vegetation such as Stone Pine & Gum where used for the floors
- Tadelakt in the bathrooms
- Reclaimed timber was used for all structural changes
- All bathroom vanities, tables & beds where made from reclaimed oregon pine.
- All paint used was zero VOC powder paint. No toxins, no waste.
- All wood was oiled with Pronature wood oil.
- All lights changed to LED
- Low energy appliances installed.
- All shutter board & OSB board used was Formaldehyde Free & VOC free
- All sealants used VOC FREE and water based.
We planted a food forest with up to 21 fruit trees in a 160sqm garden. 80sqm of that space was reclaimed from the paved driveway. Trees including oranges, apples, papaya, avocado, mango, almonds, peaches, olives, macadamia, goji berries, nectarines & pomegranate.
A food forest is a productive garden (food, medicine, fuel etc.) that closely emulates a temperate climate woodland or forest. Perennial fruit trees, flowers, herbs and vegetables all co-exist as they would in nature to create a diverse ecosystem of plants, animals and soil life. Therefore it is resilient and low maintenance.
All our storm-water is channeled into infiltration swales under the garden pathways feeding the plants and trees. It is a vibrant and thriving slice of nature that is exponential in the yield it creates and a marvel to interact with daily as it attracts birds and wildlife.
Grey Water Wetland
All the grey water from the house runs through a man-made wetland before it feeds papaya and banana trees. The wetland & fruit trees clean up the water of excess nitrates, keeping the groundwater clean and returning the nutrients back into the soil and the plants.
The house was fitted with a 3000 litre biodigestor that is buried underneath the ground. The biodigestor processes all sewerage from the home reducing the waste by 80%. The biodigestor creates 45 min of cooking gas per day which is used in the kitchen.
Cape Town has very hot and dry summers, meaning that 35 000l of water was required per month to irrigate the 160sqm food forest. A borehole was the chosen solution. To ensure that it was sustainable it was shared with 2 neighbours and a comprehensive groundwater recharge strategy was put in place with all stormwater run-off channeled back into the soil.
The borehole water is high in iron and is treated and filtered using an ozonator and a DMI-65 system.
We also harvest rain water into a 5000l tank which is used for cooking & drinking.
The soil we are working with is essentially and old dune. This makes it incredibly hard to retain nutrients and water. Building the soil is a long term strategy of putting biomass and biochar into the soil. We have found a waste stream of biochar from the charcoal industry which has enabled the soil start coming to life.
Tours & Workshops
If you are interested in organising a tour for a school or organisation please email [email protected]
We also run workshops, permaculture trainings and talks at regular intervals. Join our mailing list to find out more.