FROM the top storey with its breathtaking views of Hout Bay, where he and his wife Fiona sleep, Herbalist !Xoma can keep an eye on his horses grazing below, the dogs in the yard and even see who is coming up to the front gate.
If he needs something from his vegetable garden, all he needs to do is reach out his hand.
Ayob has everything he needs around him in his eco-friendly “lighthouse” perched on the slopes of Hangberg in Hout Bay.
The vertical garden on the north-facing wall has an array of leafy greens, tomatoes, herbs and seedlings of indigenous trees thriving in recycled plastic pipes. It is covered by polycarb to keep out the wind.
“I’m also growing wild plums, berries, spinach and aloe, which is good to treat eczema,” he says.
There are stables below for his horses and he has built two extra rooms below the house using recycled material from a dumpsite nearby. There is also a living area with plenty of windows to let in the light, and a bathroom and kitchen area.
“I’m also creating a kraal with huts, where backpackers can come and sleep over and learn about our way of life.”
The design of the lighthouse was a collaboration between Ayob and Stephen Lamb and Andrew Lord, of Cape Town design company Touching the Earth Lightly.
Ayob said that in 2013, the City had wanted to move him and his neighbours to a temporary relocation area while they developed houses on the land. “But I refused to move into a ‘box’, the only way was a land swop.”
He says he asked the city for cement, a chainsaw and a fence so he could start building. Instead, Ayob says, “they brought Steve (Stephen Lamb)”.
“Steve listened to everyone’s side and we all gave ideas.”
He said people he didn’t even know got involved and helped build the house which won an eco-innovation award last year.
“The structure uplifts your self-esteem and gives encouragement to others. It makes you want to pass it on to others.”
Solar energy and recycling are also contributing to sustainable living in Hangberg. Four structures have been built with metal and wood donated by film company Moonlighting, from the set of Homeland, which was shot in the city last year.
A new section of Barry Pretorius and Jacqueline Arendse’s home is lit up using plastic bottles connected to a solar panel.
Pretorius explains that the solar panel on the roof charges a battery which powers four LED lights inside the plastic bottle which contains water. There is also an inverter on the battery, which allows them to charge their cellphones.
The battery supplies about 10 hours of light.
The UCT science students helped with the circuit boarding and installation of the lights, while the Liter of Light Foundation in Switzerland assisted with funding.