The Falling Water of Linksfield Ridge (and Other Architectural Marvels)

by | Jan 25, 2023 | Arts and Culture, Johannesburg, Museums and Buildings | 9 comments

It’s been two months since Thorsten and I joined a Johannesburg Heritage Foundation tour of three crazy houses on New Mountain Road in Linksfield Ridge. I have very limited time to write this post (I’m getting on a plane to Namibia tomorrow — more on that soon), but I want to share my photos and Thorsten’s sketches of the New Mountain Road tour before 2023 runs away from me. Please excuse this quick version of what could be a much longer (and better) post.

Thorsten's sketch of the Falling Waters of Linksfield Ridge
Joburg’s version of Falling Water, inspired by the Frank Lloyd Wright masterpiece in Pennsylvania. I like Thorsten’s sketches from this tour a lot more than my photos. (See more of Thorsten’s work at @theThinking_Hand.)

The tour was called “Mid-Century Masterpieces – the houses and people of New Mountain Road”, although all three houses were built a bit later in the 20th century. South African architect Gerald Gordon designed all three homes, and one of them was Gordon’s own home from 1968 until his death in 2016. Gordon was inspired by the legacy of architect Hermann Kallenbach, who designed the Linksfield Ridge suburb in the 1920s and lived in New Mountain Road himself before his death in 1945.

Falling Water in Joburg

Our first visit was to the Falling-Water-inspired house, which Gordon designed for Linksfield Ridge resident (and die-hard Frank Lloyd Wright fan) Alkis Doukakis and his wife. I really loved exploring this house, which has a delightfully 1970s interior and ancient rocks protruding though the basement floor.

Alkis Doukakis' house
It does look remarkably like the original Falling Water, minus the actual falling water.
Falling water from front
The front of the house, which faces the north side of the ridge.
View of Linksfield Ridge from Falling Water
The house has stunning views.
Falling Water entrance hall
The crazy entrance hall.
Falling Water basement with rocks and plants
The ridge rocks (and plants!) are built right in.

Gerald Gordon’s Home

I totally failed to capture Gerald Gordon’s home, which is considered a heritage home and an architectural masterpiece. The home is four stories tall and built right into the steep face of the ridge. Luckily Thorsten’s sketch gets the point across.

Thorsten's sketch of Gerald Gordon's house
Thorsten’s sketch of the Gordon home.

Gerald Gordon taught Thorsten in architecture school, and Thorsten visited the house when Gordon still lived there. Here’s what Thorsten wrote in his Instagram caption, which is similar to the (somewhat illegible) text in the image above:

“Gerald was my construction lecturer in 3rd year. His house is like an enormous shack in the best sense of the word. It feels organic, ad-hoc and hand made with a clever, daring and frugal use of materials and systems. The house makes the most of its location on one of Johannesburg’s ridges. The incredible views and the rock of the ridge are ever present.”

Inside Gerald Gordon's house
One corner of the Gordon house lounge.
Thorsten sketching in the house
Thorsten sketching in a library nook that protrudes out over the ridge.

The Wildest Mansion on Linksfield Ridge

I don’t even know how to explain the last house we visited — also designed by Gerald Gordon, although no one seemed sure exactly when or for whom. It was totally wild and awe-inspiring.

Gaudi-esque house on Linksfield Ridge
A mysterious, wild, Gaudí-esque house on Linksfield Ridge. I’m not sure who lives there now, if anyone, but apparently it’s for sale.
Inside crazy house
The house is full of crazy, swooping curves, colorful stone and floor tiles, and bricks on the ceiling.
Hallway of crazy house
Bemused tour participants marvel at the hallway/stairwell area.
Thorsten's sketch of the hallway
Thorsten’s sketch of the crazy hallway/stairwell.

I have done a very bad job illustrating/explaining these houses, and you probably all have 100 more questions than you had when I started. I think that’s one of the reasons I held off on blogging about this tour — because I don’t know how to explain it. But I couldn’t let the pictures and sketches go to waste. If you do have questions, fire away and I’ll do my best to (badly) answer them.

View to the north from Linksfield Ridge
View to the north from the parking area above the crazy Gaudí house.

The Johannesburg Heritage Foundation has a lot of great tours coming up in the first quarter of 2023. Browse them here.


  1. AutumnAshbough

    Having a hard time with some of the photos losing, but the view from the Falling Waters house is amazing. I’ll look for the others on Insta!

    • 2summers

      Oh no! Like the photos aren’t there? I’ve been having some weird issues with my site going down/slowing way down for a couple of minutes and then coming back. My developer is looking into it bug maybe try back in a few minutes.

      • AutumnAshbough

        I can see them now! Very cool, because that last house is not to be missed.

        • 2summers

          Thank you for returning ????

  2. dizzylexa

    I love the combination of Thorsten’s drawings and your photos. I only posted two photos from this tour with no description as it was just too confusing with too much info and visuals, so well done.

    • 2summers

      I’m glad I’m not alone! (I actually went and looked at your photos in hopes of gaining some insight and noticed you also didn’t post many. Hahaha.)

      • dizzylexa

        Ha ha ha, have a great trip.

  3. murray gordon

    It’s great to see these houses of Gerald Gordon featured here. I visited the house in which he lived many years ago — he was the neighbor of my girllfriend’s family. I recall the rear wall of the living room — it consisted of the rocks of the mountain! Amazing! It would be great to see photos of that. I also recall the toilet in one of the upper floors — you had this amazing view fo Johannesburg, out to the distant mountains, as you sat there!

    • 2summers

      That sounds like an amazing toilet. I did see the rock wall in the living room – I just didn’t like my photos of it. But it’s very cool.


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