An Inviting South African Cottage Embraces its Seaside Locale

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By Anna Jones
Clad in timber and well-connected to the outdoors, this retreat in the village of Kommetjie is a nod to traditional cottage architecture and its surrounding community.

The serene, seaside village of Kommetjie, south of Cape Town, South Africa, provides an idyllic coastal setting for an indoor/outdoor home. Accordingly, Cape Town–based architecture studio SALT Architects allowed the settings to inspire the design of 5 Fin Whale Way, steering towards a form that connects interior spaces to the outside environment with a pitched roof and dormers. 

From afar, the home closely resembles the traditional architectural character of the surrounding heritage.

From afar, the home closely resembles the traditional architectural character of the surrounding heritage.

The home is a mix of Cape Cottage architecture—which is rooted in the European medieval "longhouse"—and Victorian architecture, which was influenced by the materials available when settlers started arriving to the area from Europe. 

A simple composition in form, but intelligent in detail and execution, the peaked-roof dwelling is a stunning wood- and stone-clad living space.

A simple composition in form, but intelligent in detail and execution, the peaked-roof dwelling is a stunning wood- and stone-clad living space.

Clad in timber and exuding warmth, the home is traditional in its use of materials, but contemporary in the execution of details. Vertical wood siding wraps the upper floors. Two deep stone walls conceal the sliding door tracks and concrete columns on the main floor. One, extending inward, provides a textured backdrop to the floating stair. Large stainless-steel plate framed windows, modified versions of dormer windows, increase the ceiling of the height-restricted volume. A cantilevered wood- and-steel canopy, inspired by the traditional porch of a Victorian beach cottage, provides shade during warm summer days, while allowing winter sun to warm the interior living spaces. 

The large, sliding doors pocket into the deep stone walls, completely opening up the living space to the outdoors.

The large, sliding doors pocket into the deep stone walls, completely opening up the living space to the outdoors.

The wood canopy and the wood deck align in extension, framing views of the neighborhood beyond.

The wood canopy and the wood deck align in extension, framing views of the neighborhood beyond.

The outdoor swimming pool is just steps from the comfort of the living spaces.

The outdoor swimming pool is just steps from the comfort of the living spaces.

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The home opens up to, and connects with, the surrounding neighborhood.

The home opens up to, and connects with, the surrounding neighborhood.

An open, continuous space on the main floor holds the living room, dining room, and kitchen. Each of the spaces is made exceptional through its unique spatial scale, abundance of natural light, and direct relationship to the outdoor environment. The living area connects to a wrap-around outdoor deck, complete with a swimming pool, along the public facade of the house. The dining room extends onto a smaller outdoor patio, kept private from surrounding homes via tall walls.  A fire pit provides the ideal location to gather with family and friends in an intimate surrounding.  The kitchen is connected to a thin piece of outdoor space, blurring the boundary between out and in. 

The floating wood stairs descend in front of a stone wall, which extends from the outside in.

The floating wood stairs descend in front of a stone wall, which extends from the outside in.

Mainly open in plan, a two-sided fireplace with an open  flute quietly divides the spaces on the main floor.

Mainly open in plan, a two-sided fireplace with an open flute quietly divides the spaces on the main floor.

A fire pit and small courtyard lie directly adjacent to the dining space.

A fire pit and small courtyard lie directly adjacent to the dining space.

Simple subway tiles decorate the walls of the main floor bath.  A seamless concrete floor leads to directly to the shower with full-height glazing.

Simple subway tiles decorate the walls of the main floor bath. A seamless concrete floor leads to directly to the shower with full-height glazing.

On the upper floor,  the peaked roof form is revealed.  A built-in headboard provides some separation between the functional spaces within the suite.

On the upper floor, the peaked roof form is revealed. A built-in headboard provides some separation between the functional spaces within the suite.

In all spaces of this three-bedroom, contemporary cottage, the outdoor environment is one with the interiors, resulting in a beautiful composition of nature, material, and form. 

Project Credits:

Architect of Record: SALT Architects LTD

Builder / General Contractor: Lovejoy Building

Structural Engineer: BJB Structural & Civil Engineers

Cabinetry Design / Installation: Prowell Kitchens 

Other Company / Contact: KVS Stainless Steel 

Photography: Dearheart Photos