location: De Waterkant, Cape Town | architecture / interior design: GSQUARED Architects & Interiors |  photography: Niel Vosloo Photography

De Waterkant (The Waterside) is an iconic area within the Cape Town City Bowl below Signal Hill. This lower section of the Bo-Kaap was historically a Cape Malay settlement and subsequently became the haven of the creatively minded during the ‘70s and ‘80s. Today, its two- and three-storey terraced homes represent some of the most expensive property per square metre on the peninsula.

Say the architects: ‘When we first met with the client there was an existing two-storey single dwelling on this 106-square metre site, but the building had no heritage significance, which allowed us to completely demolish the structure. Our brief was to design a luxury townhouse development, which consisted of a one- and two-bedroom unit, each having off-street parking; plus bedrooms en suite, open living entertainment areas and roof terraces. The client requested a unique design that would maximise the best use of space within the city bowl and offer great views. What resulted is a one bed unit of 143 square metres and a two bed unit of 223 square metres.

‘In executing this brief we opted to treat the street edge with a hard concrete structure in order to provide privacy to the owners. Carefully punctured openings on the street façade allow for natural light and ventilation and the large window to the street was screened using a bespoke metal screen, which effectively filters the afternoon sun.’

Each unit has off-street parking with stairs connecting the different floors. Bedrooms were designed on the first floor, each with an en suite bathroom. The living rooms and kitchens on the second floor maximise panoramic views towards the city and Cape Town’s harbour. Above, each roof terrace has its own plunge pool and entertainment area where roof planters soften the edges and provide privacy between the two units.

Space in De Waterkant is limited, and while there were no specific problems the architects recall that obtaining approvals from Cape Town Heritage, municipal zoning bye-laws and the Ratepayers Association were necessary preliminaries. And further, that during construction the limited space and access to the site had to be finely coordinated insofar as city council and neighbouring property considerations, plus the delivery of material from suppliers.

Inspiration here was drawn from the local context and city living in Cape Town. There was also the need for privacy, while still envisaging the creation of spaces that captured the views to the city, harbour and  Table Mountain.

For the full article see Habitat #268 November / December 2018

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