location: Fresnaye, Cape Town | architecture: Jenny Mills Architects | interior designer: Rudolph Jordaan | text: Tony Weaver | contractor and project manager: Ian Hemmes Construction and Martin De Waal | structural engineer: ADA Consulting Engineers | photography: Adam Letch

Cape Town is attracting a fast growing number of semi-transient residents from abroad, more and more of whom are becoming locals. Most have access to desirable locations worldwide, yet they choose to spend an increasing amount of their time in the Mother City.

And it’s not hard to see why. In July this year, Cape Town topped Travel and Leisure’s list of the world’s top cities to visit, just the latest in its many other accolades. Another pointer: WSGN – the Global trend authority – has recently set up home in the central City’s Ideas Cartel.

Architect Jenny Mills, who designed this spectacular contemporary mountainside home says: ‘Our client has been in and out of Cape Town for the last 25 years and now chooses to spend most of his time here. To us he is an ‘international local’, the kind of person likely to give the best advice on restaurants, niche shopping and spectacular food outlets.’

The brief Mills was given was for a dramatic suspended pool penthouse – a glamorous urban apartment set on the highest level above Fresnaye – a ‘sky pool’ apartment.

The previous house was built by the client 20 years ago (it featured in Habitat at that time). The new structure is basically a rebuild, the renovation was extensive, and the roof was replaced with a double level pool penthouse accessed separately from the upper road. It is therefore now a double dwelling with two units on the same property.

The lower house with generous lawn remains full of glamour and has equally breathtaking views.

Mills adds: ‘The client’s other homes in the US – a unique Provincetown property and a substantial New York loft – provided some competition for our Lion’s Head penthouse. Yet I reckon that the  pool penthouse has surpassed them. Happily, he is considering to sell these other homes and to make Cape Town his main home.’

The architect says: ‘Today, the world of design ideas is widely accessible, and this is positive. People can share, cut and paste, to create successful outcomes. As architects however, we require a specific skill to visualise and conceptualise form and space. In doing this we accommodate the requirements of the project and its relationship to its environment. When we build, we make large, living sculptures.

‘This house was an opportunity to create a building that has a strong sculptural presence and also a very strong connection to its environment and views. We used a reduced palette of concrete greys and white. This muted colour selection allows the play of light and shadows to be more visible. It’s a dynamic composition of massive horizontal and vertical planes of concrete, glass and plastered surfaces. External light plays are exquisite, internal lighting in the evenings an enhancement beyond expectation.

For the full article see Habitat #256 November / December 2016