A small town in the Overberg in the Western Cape, South Africa: Baardskeerdersbos. It’s there that artists, artisans, farmers and (merely during weekends) city slickers live peaceful together. And something is happening over there except for the annual ‘Baardskeerdersbos Art Route’.
Roland Murzl is an Austrian and settled himself and his family in Baardskeerdersbos a few years ago. He is an artisan builder, building new houses and restoring old ones. He developed the concept of the Mini House; a simple prefabricated wood frame house that can be assembled on the spot. It’s available is standard sizes of 40 square meters and equivalent larger sizes. At his estate he has two. One, in which he and his family live and the other one (half finished for potential buyers can get a better idea of the flexible possibilities of inside wall arrangements, etc.).
In his huge workshop (restored old barn equipped with solar panels for self sufficiency) Roland prefabricate the different elements needed for assembly at the different building spots.
… One of the few ‘left overs’ of our previous adventure (Soekershof, with maze, cactus labyrinth and succulent garden). In the workshop we had several local artists/craftspeople (one of them with an international reputation) who sold their (hand made) products to visitors who could appreciate true South African made arts and crafts. And it’s so fulfilling to know that all of them were able to uplift themselves from poverty and gathering an above average income from their own home and/or workshop.
The new owners transformed the workshops in a (money generating) trendy restaurant and accommodation. In South African tourism there is nowadays hardly any place for a truly mutual beneficial initiative between proprietors and artists/craftspeople. Most of the crafts for sale along the roads and on markets are from abroad … For the tourists there are also state and private funded ’empowerment’ initiatives where local people hone themselves in craft making… Some of these survive, most unfortunately not.