The House that Simon’s Built

04 June 2015 by Katy Johnson

The moment Simon’s house comes into sight you know you have found something special, a real labour of love. With its mixture of stone and organic sculptures, wrought iron metalwork and quirky disjointed architecture this house is definitively one of a kind. It would look at home on the cover of glossy magazines promoting bijoux living, yet the real magic of the place only truly comes alive when you hear the story behind it.

This is because Simon’s house is not situated in one of the trendy districts of Cape Town, or an artistic hangout like Kaapsehoop. Simon’s house is smack bang in the middle of Barberton’s Township, a place renowned for its sense of community but not so much for its art.

Simon himself had no formal artistic training. He simply had a passion to create something beautiful from items others no longer wanted, and that is the true magic of his house. Way before ‘Green Homes’ were all the fashion and recycling was en vogue, Simon was collecting bits a pieces from here and there to make his dream home a reality. 

A building labourer by profession, Simon collected most of his raw materials from the historical buildings in Barberton he helped to renovate. These he would load on to his bicycle to transport home, where he would refashion them into something exquisite. Whether that was the more avant garde aspects of his house like the outdoor pray room, breeze block aviary, stone and succulent obelisk, or the more functional everyday items like his chairs and tables. Absolutely everything, inside and out, is bespoke, recycled and completely unique. 

For me however, the thing that really stood out was the roof. Built on multiple levels, in a higgledy piggledy fashion, with what appears to be chimney stacks sticking out here and there. Simon has fixed guttering and pipe work to every part in order to funnel and collect rain water through a series of channels. In a country where water is becoming an ever more scarce resource and restrictions on watering gardens are put in place most summers. Simon’s Water Wise house is not simply a beautiful monument to recycling, it is a lesson in ‘Green Living’ too. 

There are so many reasons why Barberton’s township tour is a ‘must-see’ attraction along the Genesis Route, yet Simon’s Water Wise house on its own makes the trip worthwhile.


Township Tour:

1.    To book the township tour contact either: Barberton Community Tourism [astrid@barberton.co.za | +27 (0) 13 712 2880 | +27 (0) 82 959 6670] Stella [stella.taribo@icloud.com | +27 (0) 72 114 5286] or Andrea [barbertontours@gmail.com | +27 (0) 79 180 1488]

2.    Please note: Costs vary on the numbers and tours can take up to a week to organise, so please book in advance.