Preparing to build a Boma (Outdoor Fire Pit)

I recently spent all of December 2015 in South Africa and while I was there I was once again convinced that Architecture has much more of an influence on society and upon our emotional and psychological well being than we give due credit to.

So for example, if we look at something as simple as a fire, which families, friends and communities have gathered around for 1000’s of years, we see how different cultures have responded to the fire,  in colder countries the fire has been taken indoors, in warmer countries the fire has been taken outdoors.

In South Africa, at Scotty’s home, where we enjoyed 2 weeks of our holiday in their guest cottage and I was introduced to ‘Scotty’s Boma’.  He built it out of Gum Tree timber, and in the centre of the boma, he has a fire pit, around which he and his family and guests congregate.  It’s sheltered from the wind and feels private because of the tree overshadowing the Boma above.

Inside the Boma, you are protected from the wind although the rough-hewn timber logs leak enough air to feel open and protected.  It has a sandy floor,  – most probably Umgeni Sand from the Umgeni River in Durban.

Needless today I was impressed and almost immediately made up my mind that I wanted one,  not only because I love talking with my friends and family, but also because I believe the most interesting homes support a variety of activities and environments which should all work towards enhancing and developing strong relationships.

Scotty's Boma and Firepit

Scotty’s Boma – December 2015

I notice that interesting homes are often a ‘rabbit warren’ of interlinking environments,  so, for example, you might walk in at the entrance (electric gate), and you have the choice of following the driveway to the garage and guest cottage further along or you can turn to the left, cross over the fishpond and enter the front garden courtyard, with statues hidden amongst green foliage.

You can now enter the front door, or you might choose to walk along the far side of the house to the swimming pool and patio – verandah at the back or you can step on to the veranda in the font and walk through the front door, through the home to the kitchen at the back of the home.

The kitchen is the centre of the home and links nicely to the dining room alongside or instead you can step out on the rear veranda which overlooks a lovely blue pool.   Now you have a few more choices, you can turn to the right and onto the driveway which would give you three more choices,  you could continue forward into the pool area, or you could go back to the gate or down the right side of the garage to the back garden or you could go into the garage.    …… if this interests you read my next post.

I love the idea of enclosing the fire pit in a Boma. I have found a suitable location underneath the mango tree which make good use of our rear garden but remains close enough to the house to be easily accessible.

See Havilah House Spaces for other projects.

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