Designed for a young family in the suburban area of Rondebosch, Cape Town, this house sits on an elongated site with views towards Devil’s Peak and The Back Table, which is the south-eastern edge of the iconic Table Mountain. The client’s brief called for a contemporary, open plan home that provides a relaxed lifestyle and takes advantage of the site and its views.
The resultant form is a minimal white box containing the bedroom accommodation on the first floor, hovering over the living spaces on the ground floor below. This box was articulated with strategic openings, maximising views and exposure to light, with a central courtyard carved out adjacent to the kitchen and dining room to create a focal point. The mass of the floating box is broken up on the street façade with a dramatic screen wall, which creates an open-air terrace for the guest wing of the house. The screen offers privacy from the street, while allowing views and light to permeate the building, and is constructed from standard pre-cast concrete breeze blocks reminiscent of a bygone era.
The open plan living spaces on the ground floor spill out into the courtyard and terrace to the north, with the garden and mountain views to the west. A hand-selected tree was planted in the courtyard as a focal element and to provide a shaded garden area that fills the adjacent spaces with dappled light. The tree acts as a natural screen to the direct light from the north and its canopy creates privacy from neighbours for the first floor.
Steel and timber stairs connect the two levels and lead to a large open plan utility space on the first floor, which separates the guest wing from the master suite and maintains connections to the courtyard and tree below. Circulation spaces were minimised and were all arranged on an axis with external views.
A simple pallet of materials allows space, light and volume to predominate, rather than decorative finishes and details. The ground floor has a monolithic polished concrete floor finish throughout, which blurs the threshold between indoor and outdoor living, capitalising on the South African climate. Upstairs, solid hardwood timber floorboards and natural limestone tiles create warmth and texture for the more intimate spaces of this home. Rough concrete elements were used on the street boundary and the courtyard façade, accentuating the white box through textural contrast.
This light-filled home, completed on time and within budget, successfully translates the client’s brief and is a carefully considered response to the climatic and contextual conditions of the site. The client’s willingness to envisage a bold conceptual design has resulted in a strong contemporary form uncommon to Rondebosch. This aesthetic challenges the surrounding traditional urban fabric and encourages a fresh approach to residential architecture in this suburb.