14C Peter Cloete Ave

Metropolis Design

In the Cape, south facing buildings can often be gloomy. This project manages to turn the disadvantages of an unpromising site into a triumphant resolution. Suffused with natural light, the dwelling manages to combine a satisfying sense of traditional domestic bliss with the sensory stimulation of a modern ‘inside-outside’ concept, dictated by beautiful views and enchanting natural surroundings.

Setting the main part of the house over a garage at the front, with embankment fill-up behind, is a tried and tested formula for mountainside structures, but with this project one doesn’t get the usual feeling that entrance is gained via the service quarters. On the contrary, great visual effect is created by hiding the single and double garage doors invisibly in scorched wood panelling. Making up almost the entire ground floor elevation, this continuous panelled section creates the illusion of a dark wooden podium, lending a pleasant lightweight quality to the concrete structure perched above. The play on weight continues with the cascade of almost informal cantilevered steps leading up from the drive to the heavy metal front door and sky-lit entrance foyer.

The footprint of each room is modest, but the ideas are grand. Finishes and details are refined and unobtrusive. In terms of design decisions, a sense of calm rationality pervades. Use of floor to ceiling fenestration and skylights in almost every room, adds to the pleasant atmosphere of suffused light. Ingenious use is made of an interior courtyard to bring northern light to the very front of the house. A traditional stoep or verandah abuts the southern side of the interior courtyard and has terrific views over distant mountains, but also looks back through a series of sliding doors, to the pool area at the back, a central spatial transparency which cleverly illuminates the interior spaces facing south.

Interior wall continuations extend sideways and backwards into the property, sensibly separating pleasure and service gardens and creating privacy where needed. A discreetly smart swimming pool, of a size just right for its allotted space speaks of excellent design judgment. Landscaping, using noticeably architectural plants, often with purplish hues, is simple, striking, and decorative at the same time, a continuation of the seamless play of light and shadow throughout.

Maybe the most striking and successful feature of this building is the light touch with which constructional concrete is handled, surely the most subtle sort of architectural sleight of hand.

Client:Private Client

Architects:Metropolis – Ross Cooper, Jonathan Jacobson

Project Manager:TTJ Developments – Janet Silva

Structural Engineer:MISC Engineering – Steffan Sontagg

Quantity Surveyor:Shevel Simpson – Alastair Simpson

Contractor:P Johnston Construction

Photographer:Paris Brummer