Karoo Architecture

Karoo Architecture

Take time out to explore the little towns of the Karoo and you will discover a unique style of architecture. There is a clear European influence in the architecture of these small towns, with many of the typical Karoo houses being very simplified versions of the popular Regency, Late Georgian, Victorian and Edwardian styles of the time. Typical characteristics include a façade and a flat roof and quite often a prominent covered verandah (stoep) as protection against the harsh sun. These houses in the Karoo were built of local materials such as stone and handmade bricks and plastered with a breathable mud plaster.

Each Karoo house has its own character and today the verandah may vary from cement (underneath which the original stonework can often be found) or tiles to the very typically South African red polished stoep. Shutters cover the windows and this helps to keep out the intense heat of the day and the cold night air in winter.

Many of these flat roofed houses have thick wooden beams for ceilings and before corrugated iron roofing sheets became available in the late 1800’s, a layer of mud was packed on to the beams and thatch was layed on top. Some home have been restored using the traditional thatch.

The more elaborate homes have traces of Victorian style with charming ‘broekie lace’ (decrotive iron friezes) and Victorian coal fireplaces, but they still maintain a Karoo-like integrity. The common windpump in the back garden also adds a Karoo-like authenticity to the buildings.

In the countryside of the Karoo you may come across corbelled houses built by the Voortrekkers (again a style found across Europe).