Most Karoo houses were handmade from sun-baked bricks, mud and reeds, and are far more pleasant dwelling spaces than most modern constructions.
But one should know a thing or two about local temperature control: to cool the place down in midsummer, it’s best to open the loft doors to release the heat trapped in the attic.
Karoo houses, it turns out, are full of quirks and unexpected secrets. In this dry land with its scorching summers and frozen winters, houses that were crafted more than a hundred years ago with ‘primitive’ materials are often still standing. And they breathe and flex like living things.
In the Karoo you will still find houses with peach pip floors, sash windows, mud plaster, sunbaked clay bricks, cross doors and Bible doors, broekie lace fretwork and real shutters.
Verandah roofs are distinctively curved into shapes that resemble billowing canvas, in styles called bellcast, bullnose and Regency.
Then there are those distinctive architectural features that Karoo converts learn like a new language: quoins, gables, parapets, cornices, finials, fanlights, brakdakke and brandsolders.
“Karoo houses are aesthetically pleasing. They’re good investments, people are nostalgic about them and quite honestly, they’re just nicer houses to live in,” says Eastern Cape architect Peter Whitlock.