The brief to the architects was to design a holiday home for two friends that captures the essence of living in Cape Town. The house, accommodating up to 12 people, should maximize all aspects of the site (views, orientation, etc.) in a seamless manner. The budget for the complete house was 700 000 UK pounds with a 9 month construction period.
The house is built along 2 dominant axis, the North-South axis linking the mountain and sea, and the East-West axis linking the bedroom wings. Entrance, dining space and pool deck form the North-South axis with no visual barriers allowing clear views at all times from mountain to sea. The bridge at first floor that links the bedrooms hovers across this space.
Having two distinct clients prompted the approach of having 2 bedroom pods elevated on the first floor level, each with a master suite and guest bedroom connected with a floating concrete bridge through he double volume ‘bridge space’. This space serves as the knuckle around which the whole house gravitates.
The design expression was derived from the one part of the client body having a strong preference toward a modern minimalist approach, while the other tended toward a more eclectic asian vernacular aesthetic. Both clients however agreed on the importance of a well considered eco-sensitive approach.
The house is entered through the entrance court by way of a timber bridge over a koi pond. One is then presented with the double volume glass façade with a view through the house toward the ocean. The concrete bridge sails overhead defining the entrance space while the 2 steps down defines the dining area. This progression over the pond, nearly right onto the pool deck with vistas over the ocean naturally leads one through the space and the house.
The fireplace open to 3 sides with its floating flue canopy forms the visual break separating the living area from the bridge space. On the other side the kitchen is visible flowing onto the outdoor spa and breakfast deck.
The clients expressed a desire to blur the boundaries between inside and outside, and thus create an amorphous entertainment space incorporating the whole ground floor level. This was addressed firstly by providing the absolute minimum of structure on the ground floor level, only enclosing the garages and media room in conventional boxes, and then filling the gaps with sliding glass doors. Spaces were then defined with changes in level and finish rather than with walls.
The pool hugging the one side of the house, almost pulled right into the space presents one with the feeling of dining on the pool deck rather than indoors. Ending the entrance court planting inside the space further blurs this boundary.
The sustainable hardwood ‘Jarrah’ that formed the pool deck was then also used to cover the dining room floor resulting in these two spaces flowing together. The (exterior quality) white concrete dining room table used together with plush suede chairs further enhance this effect.
The site has both stunning mountain and sea views to be enjoyed, leading to the use of double volume glazing on both sides of the bridge. The mountain side however faces into the prevailing SE wind, while the sea side faces into the harsh westerly afternoon sun. These conditions were accommodated by placing an entrance court to the mountain side acting as a wing lobby, and motorized sunscreens on the seaward side controlled via the Crestron smart home system. The two bedroom pods also form a protected pool deck outside the bridge space protected both from the wind and sun.
One of the keys to the success of this house and in particular this space was the linear design process that was followed. There was synergy between the architects and the clients from the outset of the project, and nearly no design changes throughout the construction process. This resulted in a space very close to the original design concept.