Breathtaking minimalist home with views: First Crescent

The owners brief for architecture firm SAOTA (Stefan Antoni Olmesdahl Truen Architects) was to design a dramatic and memorable house in Camps Bay, South Africa. The house needed to suit his specific aesthetic considerations and have the flexibility that it could be either partially or completely rented out. The client has a discerning eye for striking contemporary design and that, along with the fantastic position of the site lent, to creating an elegant response.

A double storey 7,276 square foot (676 square meters) house was positioned centrally on the site with a very large south facing front garden. As the existing house did not maximize the sites potential, it was entirely demolished except for the small basement area which was converted into a guest suite with special views of its own. The property, and subsequently the plan of the house, focused on Camps Bay beach and views of Lion’s Head.

To capitalize on the views, meant that the design also needed to respond to issues of privacy with the neighbor’s property. Clerestory frameless glazing (skylights) replaced structure and framed views. Sandblasting of the full height glazing at the eastern boundary enabled the architects to maximize light to the linear passage and maintain views of the mountain peaks.

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The living spaces are at the northern side of the house, and feel like they propel themselves towards the view. All living spaces have a great connection to the covered or uncovered terraces and the interior / exterior space continuation is dramatic. The living spaces are highly transparent to take full advantage of views.

The upstairs and downstairs are very similar in that each level is fully equipped and independently habitable. The ground floor differs in that it has a self-contained staff suite, only two bedrooms and a water feature which runs the full length of the passage emphasizing the linearity of the house. At this level the views from the terrace are mostly restricted to the north. However, at the first floor one is elevated above the neighboring houses and can appreciate the 360 degree view.

The roof over the deck has a steel structure which cantilevers out of the reinforced concrete of the roof slab. A steel ring beam was used to create the cut-out and the remaining external extent of the roof was then clad with aluminum panels. Steel sections remain visible creating the illusion of a very thin roof. Reinforced concrete upstand beams are however set back from the edge of the roof edge and are not visible from below.

The bedrooms were simply arranged to look west towards the great sea views off the linear circulation space which forms the rear spine of the house. There is a dramatic staircase in this circulation space; with good views back to the Cable Station.

Photos: Wieland Gleich & Karl Beath