An Elegant South African Home Embraces Mesmerizing Views

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By Michele Koh Morollo
Located in the wine region of Benguela Cove, this modern family retreat is well suited to make the most of its unique natural setting.

Perched on a green slope above a sparkling seashore, this 4,533-square-foot family home has been built to offer protection from the extreme sun, salt, rain, and high winds of the South African climate, while still enabling the property to connect and draw in the stunning beauty of its natural environment. 

Designed by Cape Town practice SAOTA—with interiors by ARRCC—the modern house was conceived with a C-shaped plan, and features spacious sheltered courtyards, along with wings that frame views of the landscape. 

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The owner wanted a cozy family escape with plenty of outdoor entertaining areas.

The owner wanted a cozy family escape with plenty of outdoor entertaining areas.

"Nature pervades the house—the seamless flow of internal floors and ceilings out into external living spaces is mirrored by the fynbos planting, which stalks the edges of the internal envelope, enfolds the terraces and decks, and seeps into the garden courtyard," says Philip Olmesdahl, one of SAOTA’s directors.

"This distinctive sheltering shape is again expressed in the wrapped floor-wall-roof profile of the three wings, which—assembled together, one above the other—track the site as it slopes toward the water," says Philip Olmesdahl.

"This distinctive sheltering shape is again expressed in the wrapped floor-wall-roof profile of the three wings, which—assembled together, one above the other—track the site as it slopes toward the water," says Philip Olmesdahl.

"This deliberate blurring of boundaries with and between nature and architecture is a signature of our work; the result is a serene retreat in a spectacular setting that can be enjoyed throughout the year," he adds.

At the back of the property is a deliberately understated entrance, and a simple canopy that shelters the front door. This door opens onto a landing, from which a broad corridor follows the natural gradient alongside a generous garden courtyard.  

At the back of the property is a deliberately understated entrance, and a simple canopy that shelters the front door. This door opens onto a landing, from which a broad corridor follows the natural gradient alongside a generous garden courtyard.  

The roofs are made of corrugated aluminum, and the timber sidings used at the entrance are repeated on key ceiling planes.

The roofs are made of corrugated aluminum, and the timber sidings used at the entrance are repeated on key ceiling planes.

Between the garden courtyard and sheltered decks that lead out to a pool is an internal living wing. Here, the slope of the timber clad has been carefully placed to provide shelter from the common high winds. 

Between the garden courtyard and sheltered decks that lead out to a pool is an internal living wing. Here, the slope of the timber clad has been carefully placed to provide shelter from the common high winds. 

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The corridor ends at the kitchen with a solid granite island that looks out over an open-plan dining and living area. This space features a fireplace and picture window that is set within a large concrete hearth wall. 

The corridor ends at the kitchen with a solid granite island that looks out over an open-plan dining and living area. This space features a fireplace and picture window that is set within a large concrete hearth wall. 

Robust and low-maintenance metal mesh—which offers both solar and privacy control—has been chosen for the screens.  

Robust and low-maintenance metal mesh—which offers both solar and privacy control—has been chosen for the screens.  

The internal wing extends out from the living area to create an outdoor kitchen that can be enclosed by moveable screens. 

The internal wing extends out from the living area to create an outdoor kitchen that can be enclosed by moveable screens. 

A staircase leads up to the private areas.

A staircase leads up to the private areas.

The bedrooms are located within the two upper wings. These spaces present elevated views across the lagoon to the mountains.

The bedrooms are located within the two upper wings. These spaces present elevated views across the lagoon to the mountains.

"Seen from the lagoon, the result is a memorable composition. Such an unusual form could feel out of place without its references to the distinct local typologies of barns and fruit-packing sheds," says Olmesdahl.  

"Seen from the lagoon, the result is a memorable composition. Such an unusual form could feel out of place without its references to the distinct local typologies of barns and fruit-packing sheds," says Olmesdahl.  

A bathroom that looks out to the lagoon.

A bathroom that looks out to the lagoon.

The sectional drawing.

The sectional drawing.

The lower-level floor plan.

The lower-level floor plan.

The upper-level floor plan.

The upper-level floor plan.

Project Credits: 

Architecture: SAOTA 

Builder: Innes Projects 

Landscape design: CNdV Landscape 

Interior design: ARRCC

Interior décor: OKHA