This Seaside Holiday Home in South Africa Is Built for the Ages

Its mix of indoor and outdoor spaces embraces the setting while bracing for weather, giving a couple and their family a place to escape for years to come.

Knowing a site often results in great architecture. So, when Daan and Engela Ferreira were ready to rebuild their family’s holiday home in Buffelsbaai on South Africa’s Western Cape—something that could accommodate more family and their life that awaited them as retirees—it helped that they were already very in tune with the property.

Daan and Engela Ferreira’s holiday home is nestled into a narrow site overlooking the ocean. Stepped levels and a series of indoor/outdoor spaces give it a sculptural look. The lower ground floor consists of a garage and storage area, and above are living areas and bedrooms that open onto patios with views.

"They’ve spent many holidays in the original house over many years, previously with their parents and now with their children and children to follow," says architect Guillaume Pienaar, director at Pinard Architecture. "They knew exactly what they wanted."

Pienaar, too, was well acquainted with the area. "I've spent time at this beach surfing since childhood—and I love this street."

The site is prone to strong winds that make outdoor living challenging. To address this, the architects split the front of the home into two parts: a veranda and an enclosed bay window. The bay window creates a cozy, sun-filled nook with 180-degree views that can be enjoyed throughout the year, even if the wind is howling.

The coastal site is situated between a milkwood forest to the west and ocean views to the east, but a public street and lawn encroached on its privacy. In addition, a prevailing southeasterly wind during the summer months made it difficult to enjoy being outside.

The interiors offer plenty of casual spaces for family interactions—including an enclosed courtyard that connects the entertaining and gathering spaces with the two ground floor bedrooms. From here, you can also glimpse one of the red "ears"—a painted concrete awning—that protects the ground floor bedroom windows and adds a bright pop of color to the otherwise natural tones of the interior.

"There is a tension between the eastern and western aspects of the land: public versus private; sunrise versus sunset; sea versus forest; people versus solitude; sun versus shade," explains Pienaar. His solution? To embrace them as opposites throughout the design.

The sea-facing veranda is the ideal spot from which to enjoy panoramic beach views on wind-free days. The bespoke concrete deck chairs, also designed by Pinard Architecture, not only match the aesthetic of the building, but will withstand the often harsh coastal conditions, developing the same kind of patina as the home itself. The rope balustrade was specifically conceived to accommodate wet towels and bathing suits.

The house’s two opposing sides are linked by a series of interconnected indoor and outdoor living spaces that draw light, the view, and sea breezes through the building’s ground floor from east to west. The level also includes two en suite bedrooms.

Three more en suite bedrooms are located on the first floor, opening out to a large east-facing deck that overlooks the ocean and connects vertically with the interior courtyard on the ground floor. Below is the lower ground floor, a sprawling garage with a workshop and storage area.

The two concrete "ears" on either side of the building help to draw the sea air into the interior while protecting the bedrooms from the wind. The vibrant red color allows them to playfully serve as punctuation points on the otherwise austere concrete facade.

Pinard Architecture designed almost all the furniture for the house, including a large built-in lounge that can accommodate the entire family and a round timber table for evening activities. The pieces were produced in collaboration with local manufacturers, including Fechters and Crema Design. Timber panelling in the living room adds warmth and texture.

The home’s indoor and outdoor spaces are intentionally blurred, which facilitates a relaxed way of living while protecting the residents from prevailing winds. In keeping with this approach, windows and doors have been recessed to protect the interior and the timber elements from sun, rain, and sea mist.

The dining table was designed by architect Guillaume Pienaar to accommodate all 10 family members. It is constructed from hardwood with a Fenix NTM top and paired with APC chairs by Jasper Morrison for Vitra. Both the table and chairs can be moved to other spaces around the home.

To protect the ocean-facing home from the public street and lawn, the architects collaborated with horticulturalist Nanna Joubert, who conceived a plan to reinstate a line of milkwood trees across the street.

"The smell of milkwoods is synonymous with summertime," says Pienaar. "Planting trees not only creates a natural buffer between the public realm and the house, but also restores as much as we can of the previous and existing flora."

A large open skylight above an internal courtyard brings light into the heart of the home and creates an interesting play between indoor and outdoor space in the main living area. The openness also brings in sea breezes and the summery scent of milkwood trees.

Nestled as it is between forest and ocean, it was essential that the home have a strong connection to the surrounding landscape beyond simple views. The natural material palette—which makes prominent use of formwork concrete, roughly textured plaster, and timber frames—will develop a characterful patina over time, ensuring the built form is visually absorbed into the landscape as it ages. Details such as yachting braid for the balustrades and mosaic tiles for the interior floors are similarly hardwearing and evoke a casual environment with an industrial edge.

The timber cabinetry in the kitchen echoes the use of timber frames and panelling elsewhere in the home, while the graphic cut-out handles mirror the home’s geometric forms.

The interior is a composition of pragmatic materials, including concrete, mosaic tiles, and timber. Likewise, many elements were created using affordable off-the-shelf items that have been elevated through clever design. Take, for example, the round light fittings found throughout. "We used curved plastic salad bowls as formwork for the fittings and the end result is a smooth, reflective, integrated concrete dome housing a very basic light fitting," says Pienaar.

The bespoke timber table is situated beneath a pendant light from Hoi P'loy and paired with a J77 chair by Folke Pålsson for HAY. The hanging light fitting adds a playful touch to the interior and references the rope handrails on the deck, which were braided by the design team.

The ultimate success of the home lies not only in the way it offers a space for multiple generations of family to gather and connect, but in its sensitive response to the site that will age beautifully and serve many more generations to come. "It’s a home that brings the family together for the summer months by the sea," says Pienaar.

Related Reading:

This Energy-Efficient Prefab Is One Family’s Weekend Retreat by the Beach

An Inviting South African Cottage Embraces Its Seaside Locale

Project Credits:

Architect of Record: Pinard Architecture / @pinardarchitecture

Builder: Steiger Construction

Structural Engineer: KV Projects

Landscape Designer: Nanna Joubert

Lighting Design: Pinard Architecture

Interior Design: Pinard Architecture

Cabinetry: Nick Campbell

Furniture: Fechters & Crema Design

Photographer: Bureaux

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