location: Zimbali, KZN | architects – Metropole Architects; Design Architect Nigel Tarboton; Project Architect David Louis | interior design – Olàlà Interiors | photographer – Grant Pitcher

Located on the east coast of South Africa, this three-level structure is situated in the prestigious Zimbali Coastal Forest resort 45 minutes north of Durban, and is home to a young family of four. Construction commenced in January 2018 and was completed in July 2019.

With the architecture being subject to stringent estate design guidelines, which dictate traditional roof forms, the design sought to create a vision that remained in harmony with the neighbouring properties. Yet a second prerequisite was that it would represent the individual taste and aspirations of the new homeowners, illustrating their desire for a progressive and dynamic architectural aesthetic.

Further considerations such as views, orientation, privacy and the prevailing sub-tropical climate contributed to the detailing and overall signature of the finished product.

On approaching the home up the slightly inclined site, the structure looms large overhead as a series of daring cantilevers and flying beams on three levels. This commands attention.

On closer inspection, an exoskeleton comprising aluminium screens and concrete elements is set proud of the building and veils the large glass façades. This transparent outer skin layers the visual transition experience between inside and out; it’s found on the frontal and two side elevations.

The rear elevation has a monolithic, raw concrete form that stretches the full extent and continues beyond the rear corners on either side of the structure. This brutal element is interrupted only by intermittent, horizontal glass slits in what would appear to be random positions from the outside, yet are in fact strategically placed internally.

Entering the home on the lower floor, the visitor is met with an interior rain feature. Here, the water collects in a large internal / external water feature that forms the base of an elegant sculptural staircase.

The sensual curve of the staircase, spiralling up and over the water below, effortlessly draws attention to the principal living level, which opens up to the kitchen, dining room, formal lounge, study and family room. The outdoor entertainment area manifests as a seamless extension to the open-plan living space and is positioned strategically under the dramatic projection of the seven-metre cantilever of the master bedroom above.

A double volume art gallery space encompasses the floating timber staircase that leads to the top floor, which accommodates four en suite bedrooms. The T-shaped plan configuration at this level ensures that all the rooms have spectacular forest and sea views, while maximising privacy, comfort and intimacy.

Say Olàlà Interiors: ‘In this luxurious coastal escape there is a strong emphasis on the entertaining of family and friends and the generous kitchen is the core of which all other spaces flow.

‘Elsewhere, we introduced a bouquet of tactile textures, including hand-knotted rugs and high-end woven fabrics and velvets from renowned houses such as Zinc, Romo Black, Omexco and Mark Alexander. Added to this was exceptional functional lighting.’


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