Albizia House is a contemporary family home envisioned by Metropole Architects, nestled on a one acre site in Simbithi Eco Estate, South Africa. The client’s brief called for a home with an overriding sense of simplicity but with a high degree of sophistication.
The architectural style of the home is heavily influenced by the ‘Googie’ architecture of the American architect John Lautner. The origin of the name ‘Googie’ dates to 1949, when architect John Lautner designed the West Hollywood coffee shop, ‘Googies’, which had distinct architectural characteristics.
‘Googie’ architecture is a form of modern architecture and a subdivision of futurist architecture with stylistic conventions influenced by, and representing 50’s American society’s fascination and marketing emphasis on futuristic design, car culture, jets, the Space Age, and the Atomic Age.
‘Googie’ was also characterized by design forms symbolic of motion, including upswept roofs, curvaceous geometric shapes, and the bold use of glass, steel and neon, the spirit of which is embodied in Albizia House.
The extensive use of water in the design of the home includes a 25 meters lap pool with a glass panel between the water and the basement cinema room, and a shallow but expansive reflective pond on the approach side, which mirrors the building day and night, and evokes a sense of tranquility.
The palette of natural materials including timber screens, decking and cladding, off-shutter concrete and stone cladding juxtapose with the aggressive architectural form making, creating a home that is not only visually and spatially exciting, but also comfortable and intimate.
All the living areas and bedroom suites face onto a panoramic vista, which includes a dense forest down-slope from the house.
Photos: Grant Pitcher
Voelklip is a modern beach house designed by SAOTA Architects in collaboration with interior design firm Antoni Associates, located in Voëlklip Beach, Hermanus, a town on the southern coast of the Western Cape province of South Africa. A narrow 14 meters site was engaged to its maximum to achieve a spacious home arranged around a large garden and pool courtyard. Extensive concrete spans capture the panoramic sea views.
Completed in 2009, the brief called for a beach house suitable for a family of four, on a vacant site in Voelklip, Hermanus, Western Cape, RSA. The site is a long thin rectangular subdivision stretching from the sun facing street and mountain side to the undulating tree tops of the milkwoods and fynbos and the coastline on the South.
The gently sloping site presented the opportunity for a split-level living space allowing lounge, dining to be placed above the bedrooms on the ground level, all enjoying dramatic sea views. The double volume family room and kitchen form the heart of the home and form the connection between the sea facing accommodation and the internal sunny terraces, pool and garden. The main garden courtyard functions as a large wind free and sunny outdoor entertainment environment.
Materials were selected to enhance the beach-house character of the building while at the same time adding touches of sophisticated detail: white cement screed floors to the public circulation areas; lime washed oak floors to the lounge, dining area and lower-ground floor bedrooms; off shutter concrete ceilings; and external timber decks and pergolas, cladding, screens and shutters providing security, privacy and protection.
Photos: Courtesy of SAOTA
Vame is a spectacular summer holiday retreat that has been designed for a couple from New York by SAOTA Architects, located in Pearl Bay, South Africa. The clients were aware of the contemporary architectural trends, requesting a sculptured building with clean horizontal lines, large areas of glass and screens creating a space that is ‘open as well as private’. Their brief was a two bedroom home with indoor / outdoor living spaces and a studio to be used in their photographic and film related occupations.
The site is one of the few remaining sea-front stretches on the West Coast to be developed. Passing through the sleepy residential area of Yzerfontein one heads back South towards Cape Town. The site is one of a prize number located immediately behind the never-ending line of dunes. The climate on the West Coast can at times be idyllic and other times extremely harsh.
To maximize the views of the sea and waves over the dunes, the Ground Floor living areas were elevated above natural ground level. The L-shaped concept of two intersecting rectangular forms allow two full glazed sides to face the view and at the same time create a sheltered courtyard overlooking a long, rectangular pool. Sculptured rectangular forms, linear elements, expansive areas of horizontal glazing, sliding timber screens and the feature fireplace are the principal elements of the design.
The simple choice of materials complements the sculptural form of the house. The ceilings are off-shutter concrete with subtle wood grain patterns in the rectangular grids formed by the standard sized shutter boards. Walls are painted single coat plaster. Floors and bathroom walls are white cement screed throughout.
The principal neutral elements are complemented by the natural timber shutters and screens. These will mature in time to the silver-grey color of Balau timber. The full height internal doors and joinery are dark Walnut stained African mahogany; the cantilever staircase is rich red ‘Boire’ timber. Each bathroom is characterized by a feature wall in a carefully selected turquoise or green mosaic to complement the jade green slate vanity tops. Natural stone ribbon-clad features include the fireplace hearth, the red sandstone barbeque ledge recess and the rock-face jade slate pool spillway water feature. The basement courtyard has a Balau timber deck, highlighting the transition from the internal white cement screed to the dune sand. The high-gloss lacquered kitchen in yellow with seamless snow-white moulded counter tops is an unexpected surprise, for a functional element.
Raising the living areas above the natural ground level allows a one and a half volume high basement studio. Approached via an enclosed staircase, the basement comprises a large working studio, a study / third bedroom, bathroom and store room. The studio opens up to a courtyard, level with the sand of the valley between the site and the dunes. Floor-to-ceiling cavity sliding glazing allows the studio, courtyard and valley to become a single space – a natural daylight studio of infinite length. A dramatic stone-clad waterfeature cascades down from the pool on the enclosed side of the courtyard cooling the air of the sun-filled sheltered space.
The primary living level is raised above street level. The simplified street elevation comprises a natural timber garage door and is all that is required. One arrives at the front door up a gentle flight of stepping stones bedded in natural vegetation. The living area is made up of; an entrance hall with feature cantilever tread staircase, an open-plan kitchen, dining and lounge and the sea-facing balcony running the full length of the West facade as well as a covered terrace and linear patio cantilever over the sheltered courtyard garden and crystal-clear lap pool.
The First Floor has two bedroom suites. The main suite faces the sea and opens onto a terrace the length of the garden facade and has an accessible roof rock garden. The dressing room leads to the en-suite bathroom. The second bedroom en-suite is located at the inland end of the gallery passage space, and opens onto the same linear garden balcony.
The form of the house follows the required function. The L-shaped plan with its extended feature-wall towards the street creates the protected courtyard and living area. The sea-facing facade is glazed from end to end, encompassing the panoramic view from the North to Table Mountain in the South. The living area glazing can be completely opened up to allow the room to become part of the dunes, the ocean and horizon on a perfect West Coast day. The sliding Balau shutter screens provide protection from the setting sun over the Western horizon as well as privacy and security when required. The glazing to the covered terrace can also be completely opened, allowing the kitchen, dining area, covered terrace and courtyard to become one continuous entertainment area – open to the dunes and sea, or protected when the West facade glazing is closed. The screens to the covered terrace provide security and protection from the elements.
A second layer of architectural intent is evident in the carefully considered framed views and light sources. A slot skylight above the cantilevered staircase in the entrance hall throws a shaft of light into the center of the house. This casts a moving splay of shadows over the staircase treads. Framed vistas of sea and hilltop at each end of the basement staircase are viewed as one moves up or down between the cool enclosing walls. A picture window to the South of the main bedroom frames the view down the ridge of dunes towards Table Mountain.
Vertical and horizontal slot windows in the bathrooms allow views to the exterior while maintaining a sense of privacy. The butt joined glazed corners of the sea-facing facade enhance the panoramic view and floating horizontal lines. The experience of light climaxes in an almost laser show experience when the sliding shutters are closed during a sunset. The sun’s rays, as they filter through the minimal gaps between the horizontal timber slats create a magical experience as you move within the house. The cantilevered garden terrace extends the length of the house and wraps around to the fireplace, creating the impression that the building sits very lightly on the ground.
The house is essentially architectural and minimalist while at the same time being harmonious and complementary to West Coast vernacular.
Photos: Courtesy of SAOTA
House Abo is the contemporary redesign and addition of an outdated face brick house by Nico van der Meulen Architects, located in Limpopo, South Africa. When the architects were called in for renovations to this home, the most obvious factor they took into account was the excessive heat. This particular project would require specialized treatment to ensure that all the additions and alterations were suitable for the hot conditions.
Description of the project courtesy of the architect’s: The client’s brief was as follows: to redesign and style the living and entertainment areas of the house, giving it a more modern and attractive look. In the end, what was once an average single storey 3,692 square foot (343 square meters) house was transformed into an impressive double storey 5,317 square foot (494 square meters) house.
Naturally, the climate influenced most of what was implemented in the design; large expanses of opening glass were chosen to allow in as much natural light as possible without inundating the house with sun all year around; the well insulated lightweight structure of the whole house ensures that it cools down quickly in the evenings; while the water features serve as a natural cooling system. Steel, one of the chosen materials for the house, was also used in varied forms for thermal control.
The living room was opened up to create a double volume area. The frameless folding doors in the living room contribute to its open feel, as the house can double up into a veranda when the doors are pulled back. Connecting the two floors of the house is the uniquely designed staircase, which was anchored into a buried six cubic meter concrete block to give it a floating appearance. Enhancing the visual appeal of the staircase are its floss hanging pendant lights, leading the eye vertically towards the double volume ceiling, the end result is a pleasing integrated area.
The bridge that runs over the swimming pool leads to the bedroom wing of the house, which was opened up to include vast expanses of glass. The glass sliding doors situated on both sides of the bedroom allow constant draught ventilation. These doors were also fitted with horizontal shutters made of steel to control the sun.
The use of exterior louvers influenced the design of the horizontal groove lines on the double volume plaster wall in the dining room, this added character to the originally dull wall. To further enhance this wall, horizontal ledges with a built in fireplace and selected works of art were also featured. The paint colors were carefully selected to complement one another, while the rusted corten steel adds creative interest. The horizontally slatted timber wall encapsulates the swimming pool patio/braai area. The wall also wraps up to the underside of the beautifully lit ceiling, which reflects back onto the black painted swimming pool. This creates the illusion of an enclosed space.
The house was furnished to not only compliment the architecture and interior design, but also the client’s request for minimalistic opulence. The furniture was supplied by Molteni and C, Floss, Kundalini and Royal Botania Outdoor Furniture, sourced by M Square Lifestyle Necessities.
To achieve the desired outcome, the architects had to step in and train the local builders, because they were unfamiliar with the chosen building system.
The architectural firm’s in-house interior design department, M Square Lifestyle Design, was responsible for the interior design. The entire teams involved in this project, along with client, were extremely pleased with the end result.
Photos: David Ross
Pearl Valley 334 has been designed by SAOTA Architects for a young family looking to re-locate from city living to a more relaxed country lifestyle in Cape Town, South Africa. The couple wanted to raise their young family in the exclusive Pearl Valley Golf estate, located near Paarl, just 30 minutes away from Cape Town. The owners approached ANTONI ASSOCIATES to create an interior that was modern but with an emphasis on ‘barefoot luxury’ and the use of natural materials.
The house has been designed around a central landscaped courtyard with a reflective pond. On entering the house, one crosses a foyer bridge which is flanked by wet-walls cascading down ribbon-stone clad feature walls. The formal lounge is a large double-volume cathedral-like space with a trussed ceiling which is overlooked by the mezzanine study situated above the formal dining room. The dining area features a horizontal strip-fireplace which has been placed level with the dining table. A feature hooped-glass chandelier cascades over the waney-edge French oak table.
Linking the formal areas to the entertainment rooms, the kitchen looks out onto the central courtyard. Custom designed soft leather and steel barstools from OKHA Interiors provide seating around the central island. A floating stair leads up to the four en-suite bedrooms.
The family entertainment level flows out onto the front terrace and infinity pool, incorporating a number of entertainment areas such as a TV lounge, an indoor grill and a bar adjacent to the courtyard. Floating steps over the reflective pond lead to the bar area, which has a decked spa overlooking the pool. The bar area is also linked to an outdoor “boma”, which is a casual enclosure with seating area around a fire-pit.
Subtle lighting has been incorporated in all recesses and feature bulkheads to give a warm glow to peripheral edges. Concealed lighting has also been used to highlight and accentuate the organic natural finishes. The interior furniture and decor is modern and adds to the experience of the home. Tactile finishes including timber, textured leathers and raw linens add a sophisticated sense of understated luxury.
Photos: Adam Letch
The Silverhurst Residence has been designed by SAOTA Architects is an elegant, modern country villa set in Constantia’s exclusive gated Silverhurst Estate in Cape Town, South Africa. Arranged around a double volume sky-lit entrance and water courtyard, the symbiosis between the interiors and the architecture is such that the overall impression is that of a clean but carefully considered scheme that soothes with its high-end modern appeal.
VIVID Architects prepared the initial concept design for this home, a contemporary reboot of the more classical architectural styles. SAOTA – Stefan Antoni Olmesdahl Truen Architects and ANTONI ASSOCIATES were then appointed to refine and develop the design and oversee the project to completion. The facade is Georgian inspired but the modern aspect of the look is driven by a dynamic of recessed and projecting panels and cubes that create courtyards and terraces that articulate and add interest to what is a highly organized shell. The interiors, by ANTONI ASSOCIATES, are equally sculpted.
For the design ethic within the house, ultra-slick finishes and a futuristic home-tech edge were chosen. Stripped back ceilings with recessed details cleverly hide curtain tracks and act as a mechanism through which wooden feature walls can disappear out of sight, lending each room a clean crisp finish. Clusters of directional spotlights were selected to add ambiance and subtly highlight architectural nuances, such as the floating stairs.
Entering the house, a large light-filled entrance hall divides the two ground-floor wings which consist of a series of living spaces that open out to a private courtyard and the very edgy Franchesca Watson landscaped garden beyond.
Natural materials were used to add warmth and texture throughout. Jerusalem stone flooring extends from the main entrance through most of the internal and external spaces giving way to fumed oak floors in the living and dining areas, as well as American cedar for the doors and pergolas and Ipe for the pool decking.
This natural but uncluttered linear language was carried through to the decor by Mark Rielly of ANTONI ASSOCIATES who opted for solid timber pieces. Leather and suede were chosen for the upholstery. Feature lights are also strategically placed to add drama and definition to different spaces. The symbiosis between the decor and architecture is such that the overall impression is that of a clean but carefully considered scheme that soothes with its high-end modern appeal.
House Boz is a spacious and luxurious residence designed by Nico van der Meulen Architects situated on a hill within a secluded nature estate in Pretoria, South Africa. The clients requested that this stunning contemporary four bedroom house had an emphasis placed on the design of the living rooms. Ensuring that the magnificent views were optimized was of utmost importance and the design of this 8,288 square foot (770 square meters) house responds well not only to the client’s requirements but also to the context of the site.
The concept of a bush lodge arose from the vastness of the site and the natural setting of the stand within the estate. Werner van der Meulen of Nico van der Meulen Architects was inspired to design a house that resembled a bush lodge in the way it responds to nature and its immediate surroundings. Translating this concept into a contemporary home was almost effortless thanks to the location, orientation and natural beauty of the site.
Phia van der meulen and the M Square Lifestyle Design team strategically linked spaces through their use of various natural materials in the interior spaces. The design exposes the truth of the materials by using them in their purest form such as incorporating in situ-concrete, quartzite cladding and rusted mild steel in the design.
Regardt van der Meulen’s original steel sculptures were chosen for the project, as they fitted perfectly with the steel theme of the project.
Approaching the stand via a long driveway, you are afforded the opportunity to appreciate the design from a distance before actually getting close enough to appreciate its spaces. The striking square and rectangular forms are strategically positioned to capture your attention while the rusted steel boxes and stone-cladded walls aid in camouflaging the house creating a sense of unity between building and site.
The stretched screen walls seem to want to reach beyond their borders while floating steel boxes are gracefully suspended in mid air. The prominent east-west and north-south axes link and connect all the spaces while this point of collision and interception of the axes becomes the center of the home and it is here where we find the living room and covered patio. Thanks to the views being orientated towards North, the entire Northern facade has the ability to open up and live out onto the expansive views thus also naturally lighting and heating the house in winter, while carefully designed overhangs and brise-soleil keep the summer sum out.
The entrance hall positioned between the double garages is distinctively located alongside a partially covered atrium that gently introduces you to several views through the house as you’re welcomed in. The koi pond introduces water as you approach the front door while various podiums add depth and dimension to this space. An elevated sculpture podium and interlocking planters bring this atrium to life. At the same time it makes it possible to sleep with open doors as it is impossible to get into the atrium once the Mentis grating gate to the driveway is locked.
Every design decision communicates and reinforces the concept, as can be seen in the selection of materials used and the way the internal spaces relate to the outdoors. Limiting the choice of materials to predominately natural materials and earthy colors, it is evident that even the smallest of details make reference to the concept in a very unique way. Initially the site revealed itself as a mound of quartzite rock which was excavated and hand cut for the gabion walls and the stone cladding used throughout the house.
The double volume entrance hall is framed by a back-lit perforated skin of scaffolding boards bolted to a wall, creating the perfect backdrop for the sculptural looking concrete staircase with steel inlays and the sculpture under it by Regardt van der Meulen.
The interiors feature linear and monolithic forms that complement the architect’s vision for this house. Many of the functional elements were designed to become beautiful features that visually connect the spaces and create links throughout the house rather than just remaining purely functional. An example of this would be the way the staircase relates to the aluminum ceiling which features in both the main living room as well as in the main bedroom.
The selection of furniture pieces once again continued this theme where splashes of orange were used in the living room making reference to the orange seen in the rusted metal cladding. The overall charcoal color range used in this house complements the shades of grey found in the off shutter concrete walls.
The kitchen overlooks the lanai and garden while the frameless folding doors create an invisible threshold between the inside and out. These doors, when completely open, allow for the kitchen and dining room to overflow onto the lanai and bar, making entertaining effortless and enabling adults to keep an eye on children in the pool, a mere meter away.
The lanai with a sunken jacuzzi is snugly positioned between the pool on one side and a stone-cladded wall on the west which screens the afternoon sun to ensure the lanai’s temperature remains moderate. It is these design decisions that truly set this house apart from the rest.
All four en suite bedrooms are situated on the first floor with all of the bedrooms having their own private balcony. The three children’s bedrooms are situated on the western wing of the house while the main bedroom is located on the eastern wing. A suspended walkway with steel sheeting as floor tiles, overlooking the atrium links the two wings and creates a sense of privacy for the main bedroom.
Challenges arose during the construction process; however Nico van der Meulen Architects clearly pushed the boundaries on this design. This house prides itself in its design for luxury indoor/outdoor living in the heart of nature where internal spaces effortlessly expand beyond their often invisible borders to a world of beauty outside.
The variety and combination of textures used in this design create a synergy in this home which makes it truly unique.
Photos: Courtesy of Nico van der Meulen Architects
House Dukken is an open plan glass and steel home designed by Nico Van Der Meulen Architects, situated in Meyersdal Eco Estate, Johannesburg, South Africa. Gracefully positioned within a secured nature reserve that affords you the privilege of appreciating the comfort of outdoor living, this particular home was inspired by its own setting. The clients requested a spacious modern home that expressed its appreciation for outdoor living. Situated in a private eco estate, it was crucial that this dream house opened onto the garden. Consequently the design developed into a layout that encouraged such a lifestyle. With views to the garden from almost every room, and large living areas that seamlessly flowed out onto the covered patio, this 7,254 square foot (674 square meters) home merges the thresholds between inside and outside. As the site slopes towards the street, terraces were built with gabions and natural rocks to enclose the north side, with the highveld savannah beyond it where game roams.
The concept incorporated the idea of floating elements which resulted in distinctive features that distinguish this house as a Nico van der Meulen masterpiece. The concept is clear and evident from the moment you arrive as your attention is drawn to floating planes hovering above you, as if suspended in mid air. Upon closer inspection these planes appear to be the main roof structure which at first seemed to be more of a decorative feature rather than a functional requirement. It is this very principle in design that creates beautiful and practical houses which become architectural works of art.
The site has a southern entry which was favorable in that it allowed for the entire northern facade where all the living rooms are positioned to open up onto a private north facing garden. The site sloping upwards towards the north also resulted in the garden having to be stepped and terraced with gabion walls creating interest even in the landscaping.
Having a garden that is on a different level can often pose the problem of a disconnection between the covered patio and the pool/garden area. It was of utmost importance to ensure that the house and garden still related and interacted as one space rather than two disconnected areas. This was achieved by leveling the pool area and terracing the upper parts of the garden.
The best part of this design is the way the entrance entices your curiosity with long stone cladded screen walls and once inside, the transparency and openness of this home that lies behind these solid entrance walls creates interesting contrast.
At the glass front door, an interesting contrast is created by the transparency and openness behind the solid entrance walls. You can catch a glimpse of the floating staircase as you move through the house, giving the home an airy feel.
Moving through the house and catching a glimpse of the floating staircase, you are drawn in by the transparency and openness of this home. Escorted graciously through the living spaces into the garden, you are once again introduced to what seems to be a floating block hovering in mid air which in fact is the main bedroom. The concept of floating elements was evident from every perspective and vantage point making sure this home always captivated your attention.
Natural materials were carefully selected and strategically placed throughout the home serving as gentle reminders of the serene location this house finds itself in. The selection of materials assisted in ensuring the house blends in discreetly with its natural surroundings while earthy colors unify the site with the home. Splashes of color were used to liven the interior spaces with emphasis given to textures and furnishings.
Photos: Courtesy of Nico Van Der Meulen Architects
Gardens Cape Town house is a contemporary renovation and addition by Grobler Architects of a semi-detached Victorian cottage in the Gardens area in Cape Town, South Africa. Renovations to the cottage included conversion into a home office with guest suite. Period features and finishes were reinstated with new external timber doors, sash windows and shutters as well as new services, joinery and external landscaping.
An existing 1970’s extension to the rear of the property was then demolished with a new 3-storey 2,045 square foot (190 square meters) contemporary addition to the existing cottage. Accommodation included a basement double garage and an open-plan ground floor with kitchen, dining and living areas leading onto a terrace with koi pond and indigenous planting. The master bedroom was located on the first floor with planted terrace, dressing room and master bathroom with private courtyard.
Finishes included white marble and black granite surfaces to the kitchen and bathroom, white duco sprayed joinery, porcelain floor tiles and white epoxy floor finish to the first floor.
Photos: Clinton Grobler
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