location: Bishopscourt, Cape Town | architecture: COA – Craft of Architecture | interior design: Jo Carlin & Adrie Lord | construction: AWL Developers | landscaper: Carrie Latimer | photography: Johann Lourens

The owners of this contemporary home contacted architects COA directly after seeing a project they were completing in Hermanus, Cape Town. They were struck by its lightness and abundant use of glass and envisaged a similar look and feel for a new home they were planning.

Ian Gray, one of COA’s founders, met with the client on site to discuss the project and their initial brief was to renovate a small house, which already existed. However, says Gray: ‘I was stunned by the sheer beauty and location; it was one of the most amazing sites I had seen in Cape Town.

‘The location in Bishopscourt, Constantia overlooks the World Heritage site of Kirstenbosh Gardens. From the proposed location of their future reception rooms one couldn’t even see a neighbouring house due to the trees, which framed the overall view of the mountain and Kirstenbosch.’

Within 20 minutes of visualising possibilities, clients and architect jointly agreed to demolish the existing building and begin again with a white page. The clients’ initial brief was that they wanted to walk into the house and be enraptured by the mountain view, hence the double volume entrance space captures the top of the mountain. They also required the visual of the house to flow through both sides of the living space – but hide the vehicle access – hence the private courtyard. Lastly, they needed accommodation to cater for an extended family and children; but still wanted to be able to utilise a smaller part of the home for themselves, residing just as a couple.

Large volumes are difficult to keep warm in winter, so COA separated the house into zones. In winter the owners are able to utilise fewer rooms – the kitchen, family room and master bedroom (without the massive volumes) – and easily close off the rest of the house. For the summer months the house can be opened up to include all the rooms and shared space. The architects thus created a passive design principle of shading the north glass, while using double-glazing throughout.

Client interaction was key to the success of this project. The client owns a construction company specialising in concrete systems and contributed valuable solutions in pushing the envelope on some of the cantilevers, especially the master bedroom where the corner is free from columns.

For the full article see Habitat #258 March / April 2017