going dutch

October 29th 2013 Comments: 9 Topics: ,

Cape Dutch architecture is a fanciful style found in the Western Cape Of South Africa. This style was prominent in the early days of the Cape Colony and derives its name from the fact that the initial settlers of the Cape were primarily Dutch.
a8765331afd466c956a50edabba2b37aThe style’s family tree can be traced back to medieval Holland, Germany, France and Indonesia. In America, though, it’s a design seldom found in the stylistic melting pot of most neighborhoods. With more of our clients exotically traversing the globe, that seems to be changing. We’re seeing a greater number of customers with a desire to go Dutch.

The house pictured above was a design we did in Charlotte, North Carolina about twenty years ago. These particular clients had no distinct look in mind for their new home. Meanwhile, we had become increasingly interested in introducing the provincial Cape Dutch dialect into our architectural speech. We showed these clients some examples of Cape Dutch houses and they were immediately drawn to it. This was not surprising. I’ve always found it a friendly, approachable style. The whimsical baroque gables, bathed in white icing, and miniature dark windows with animated shutters, all result in a romantically convivial facade. Bobby jokes that Cape Dutch homes look to him like sweet, newborn chicks with oversize heads and wee dark eyes.

Most of our more recent attempts at speaking this language have been in Southern coastal areas. Since its birthplace is South Africa, it’s a seemingly natural fit for sun-drenched settings. So, if you’re altogether unfamiliar with this bucolic style, give it a look. It’s a veritable Dutch treat.

f053e6373ce669b4afdb4a251653e2abae3bf052990f37c400c2e7c4be7044acPhoto Oct 26, 12 50 01 PMbd2e96adf6c6811d86b8ef48de3bf37a

Greg Tankersley for McAlpine Tankersley


  1. Hollis says:

    I as well have always found it very friendly and approachable, yet I do not find many clients who feel the same. Completely agree here that its style is a wonderful fit in out southern atmosphere. Much like some of the earlier Mizner(et. al) mission stuff in SoFla, it allows for a nice regulation of light in the sun bathed climates. Great work MTA!!

  2. barbara schroeder says:

    I am trying to BUY the small Brown Book (4″ X 5 1/2″) FINDING HOME. Can someone please respond to my e-mail on how to but these books. I would like them for Xmas presents…thankyou

    • Barbara: The book you were referencing was a self-published little volume we made with photos of our work and Bobby’s writings. It was created for client gifting and marketing. Unfortunately, we don’t have anymore on hand. We’ve looked into reprinting it but, with our other books being actively printed, we haven’t done anything on that front. Sorry.

  3. Lisa van der Reijden says:

    Love it! See it as the inspiration at Alys Beach as well..gorgeous

  4. Truly spectacular! But I would expect nothing less! Anything you do is my Favorite thing! Thanks for this fabulous post!! Now I definitely want to go Dutch! It’s gorgeous! And yes…now I see it in so many of the new developments in Florida, etc….LOVE it!

  5. Jamie says:

    I live in a small neighborhood in Huntington, WV, that is of this design. It is called Mortimer Place. It is on the National Historical Registry. The houses are beautiful, but some unfortunately have not been well cared for over the years. They were built between 1914 and the mid 1920’s.

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