VISI magazine has launched a crusade to save the iconic Coromandel, an historic Eastern Highveld home that goes on sale this week. It was once the home of the founder of Edgars, Sydney Press.
VISI photographers recently visited the property to shoot it for the latest issue of the magazine, which is devoted to the concept of wooden spaces and champions the cause of responsible use of wood. The team was horrified to find the house decaying into ruins.
The situation spurred VISI editor, Jacquie Myburgh Chemaly, to launch an appeal to preserve the house. “Almost every architect or architecture student I have met, has been to Coromandel, photographed it and feels passionate about the building’s unusual design,” said Myburgh Chemaly. “A place as important as Coromandel should surely enjoy the protection of a heritage trust and VISI intends to do everything it can to facilitate a campaign to preserve Coromandel.”
Coromandel was designed by Italian architect, Marco Zanuso. It is currently owned by a farm workers’ trust that bought Press’ properties after his death and the house itself is leased to tenants. It is situated in an area of stunning beauty, between Lydenberg and Dullstroom in Mpumalanga, a three-hour drive from Johannesburg. The estate was created out of 24 smaller farms by Press, in the 1970’s. Built into the side of another mountain – and blending perfectly with its environment – is the extraordinary Manor House. It also has magnificent stables.
Built of stone and wood, Coromandel consists of a series of passages and rooms virtually concealed under the ground, with a dramatic garden designed by gardening great Patrick Watson that is now virtually consuming the house itself.
Myburgh Chemaly, who has invited the VISI community in her editor’s letter to email her if they would like join the magazine’s mission, is in the process of setting up a committee to champion the cause and hopes local architects will be inspired to help VISI to draw up a plan of action.
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