High on the ridge of Bishopscourt in Cape Town, this unique site resulted from the demolition of an existing house. The site was divided by the existing driveway, which rose steeply from the end of the cul-de-sac below. The new building’s form, perched as it is in a commanding position, was perceived from the outset to be a pavilion overlooking the lawns and the forested valley below.
The clients’ brief had a few specific requirements; orientation towards the Constantia Valley and distant False Bay, and the dramatic views up the mountains above Kirstenbosch were essential, as was the emphasis on developing the site to maximise the garden and lawn area. Following the brief the driveway was relocated to the southern boundary of the site to allow this and open up the lawns and the gardens towards the sun and mountain views. There are panoramic vistas towards the south and west from the bedrooms and living rooms; while the pool and terraces are located on the north-east side, in a courtyard protected from the Southeaster gales by the intersecting linear forms of the house.
The triangular shape of the site, and its elevation above the street and steep incline, required extensive excavation and retaining, in order to provide a driveway of acceptable gradient, and extensive building platform on one level, and garden terraces all round.
The double-winged roof, floating above the bedroom wing, and virtually glass box-enclosed living rooms, are the main architectural features. These are complemented by secondary architectural elements such as the cantilevered end of the main entrance feature wall, the floating stone-clad fireplace, continuous perimeter cantilever terraces to the bedrooms and the wrap-around cantilever eyebrow.
Finishes include: polished granite floors, no carpets, no curtains and the floating feature roof with clerestory lighting. The clients’ preference was towards a slick modernist environment with a definitive northern European flair. The imported light grey granite floor slabs set the tone for a colour palette of cool greys rather than natural browns, a refreshing change from prevailing trends.
Photos courtesy Wieland Gleich