Adam Letch


Forte Architetti as Architects

Arcadia is born, a luxury residential complex built on the prestigious Arcadia Road of Fresnaye, Cape Town.


A unique architecture, which is fluidly integrated into the pre-existing context, celebrating the natural setting and enhancing the urban scenario through outstanding and sophisticated design solutions.


Based in Italy and South Africa since 2015, Forte Architetti is one of the few Italian firms permanently working and rapidly growing in this country. Maintaining its creative heart in Italy, the studio settled in Cape Town, carving out the reputation of the "Italian quality" label particularly appreciated in South Africa in a few years.


The latest completed project is an impressive new luxury residential complex located on Cape Town's renowned Arcadia Road. A high-end residential architecture, innovative and sophisticated, very evocative and fully integrated in the natural context, overlooking both the ocean and the innermost hilly landscape. Completed in March 2020, all apartments have been sold in a short time, becoming the most prestigious real estate development in the country.


Forte Architetti team led by founder Roberto Forte worked at the design process in order to create a unique architecture, which would integrate seamlessly into the existing context, celebrating the natural setting and enhancing the urban scenario through outstanding and sophisticated design solutions.


The brief from the client – a property development company – was to achieve an iconic architecture that would be the flagship building for the young company. The concept was to design five unique units, each characterized by a distinctive design.


The non-regular shape of the plot, its high slopes and the very dense neighborhood with tall buildings obstructing the view, were challenging factors to consider in the design process.


The ocean views on one side and the Signal Hill view on the other, were instead one of the major positive drivers informing the design.


The challenges presented by the environment were transformed into strengths and gave rise to an innovative and unique architectural design. The expositions, the views, the altimetric differences and the dialogue with the anonymous neighboring buildings are all included in the final volume. Despite the large volume of the building, the large terraces and the continuous setbacks of the upper floors allow the volume to fit softly into the context.


The building appears to be a dynamic contained volume which consists of five semi-overlapping units conceptually designed closer to a house than an apartment.


Deep terraces are conceived to ensure a proper outdoor living style, in order to enhance the stunning views and allow residents to make the most of the good weather.


From the main elevation the suggestion of a ‘big block of flats’ is totally lost and it rather appears like a luxury and elegant house. Two sloping slabs, one of which has a tapered slab below, contribute to the dynamism of the composition.


The alternation of two colours, the richness of the iroko screen and the carefully designed landscape all contribute to define the unique style of this building – which is as yet unseen in its surroundings and therefore constitutes a statement.


The back of the building is definitely a non-conventional ‘back’. As the views and the best exposures are on this side, also most of the life will happen here. Therefore the luxurious and elegant terraces are located on this part of the buildings to maximize the beauty of the views. Pools, pergolas, gardens and decks are the key elements to define a new style of living, where a system of filters, screens and planters create the necessary privacy. The plants are all hidden and nothing appears visible from the road or from the adjacent properties and even the introspection between one unit and another is strongly limited.


As previously mentioned, each unit has a unique design. Each plan has its specificities and characteristics that makes it absolutely distinctive. The angles and walls are shaped by the views but also by the desire to create highly suggestive and evocative spaces. The living area is totally projected outwards and turns into an outdoor lounge closely connected with the interior.


Indeed, one of the dominant factors in the entire design process is the relationship between internal and external spaces. Each internal environment corresponds to an external one suitably sized and in strong relationship and balance with the previous one. This aims to achieve a double result: to ensure that the interiors have their natural projections to the outside and vice versa to ensure that the interiors themselves are shaped by elements of nature such as the sun, the views and the sunsets.


The fourth floor represents a unicum in this building. It is in fact the largest apartment with a variously composed outdoor space.


Inside, a large lounge consists of a dining area and a conversation area, onto which the open-plan kitchen opens with a custom-designed counter. Immense windows slide inside the wall to disappear and make the interior and exterior a seamless environment. The sleeping areas (master and three further bedrooms all ensuite) are positioned on the two extreme sides of the apartment to guarantee privacy. The large master has a private outdoor area that opens onto the garden and has a breathtaking view of the city. The infinity edge pool and its raised deck offer a privileged podium overlooking the ocean.


Particularly attention was paid to the choice and design of furnishing elements. Most of them are custom made to carefully meet all client’s needs, enriching both indoor and outdoor spaces. Different combinations of shapes, angles and materials are the result of outstanding design that reveals the desire to build an architecture that expresses itself in every single detail.

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