Cape Town, South Africa
Project Year
Private Houses
Wieland Gleich & Stefan Antoni


SAOTA as Architects

This home is a contemporary reboot of the more classical architectural styles surrounding it in one of Cape Town’s exclusive gated estates in the winelands suburb of Constantia. Set in a tailored parkland garden, the facade is Georgian inspired but the modern aspect of the look is driven by a dynamic of recessed and projecting panels and cubes that create courtyards and terraces that articulate and add interest to what is a highly organised shell. Inside, it’s no less organised but it becomes a story of sculpted space and secret luxury courtesy Stefan Antoni Olmesdahl Truen Architects (SAOTA) and Antoni Associates who the owners enlisted for the interior architecture and bespoke haute-tech finishes.

Entering the house, a large light-filled entrance hall divides the two ground-floor wings which consist of a series of living spaces that open out to a private courtyard and the very edgy Franchesca Watson landscaped garden beyond. The layout is easy to read: it flows and reveals itself in a relay of space, which combined with a series of glassed in recesses, makes for a seamless progression between indoors and out.

For the design ethic within the house, SAOTA’s Phillip Olmesdahl concentrated on ultra-slick finishes and a futuristic home-tech edge that would propel the property into its own luxury league. Known for his uncompromising attention to detail and under-the-radar way of making finishes seamless, Olmesdahl started with a series of barely-there devices to give each room a highly designed but pared-back aesthetic. Stripped back ceilings with recessed details were an integral part of his plan. Adding definition to spaces throughout, they cleverly hide curtain tracks and act as a mechanism through which wooden feature walls can disappear out of sight, lending each room a clean crisp finish.

The architects also opted for carefully-considered clusters of directional spotlights to add ambience and subtly highlight artwork and architectural nuances, such as the floating stairs in the hallway. Technological innovations vamp it up another notch with digital light switches, concealed motorised block-out blinds, and LCD screens doing away with the need for temperature controls.

Everything has been carefully considered and planned to the nth degree, giving each room a feeling of pristine precision. It’s this unusual combination of laid-back indoor/outdoor suburban living with detailed dexterity and urban utility that sets this five-bedroom home apart.

To prevent this minimalistic glamour tipping into the clinical however, natural materials were used to add warmth and texture throughout. Jerusalem stone flooring extends from the main entrance through most of the internal and external spaces giving way to fumed oak floors in the living and dining areas, as well as American cedar for the doors and pergolas and Ipe for the pool decking. ‘The client was committed to contemporary form but for a balance we avoided precious mediums and instead chose untreated materials that have a raw beauty and would bring a rough painterly patina to the house,’ he says.

This natural but uncluttered linear language was carried through to the decor by Mark Rielly of Antoni Associates who opted for solid timber pieces in the form of the solid French-Oak dining table by Pierre Cronje, the Italian ‘Riva’ chair and locally made tree-stump table. Leather and suede were chosen elsewhere for the upholstery.

To add an air of distinction to their house the clients were also insistent that unique pieces and top brands be chosen for each room and were heavily involved in choosing everything from the stand-out sculptural furniture to the Dornbracht bathroom fittings and custom door hinges. ‘I travelled to the Milan furniture fair with one of the owners, Janet Pettitt, specifically to find the right pieces,’ says Rielly. ‘Here, we sourced the Roche Bobois leather sofa for the family room and the white-leather Frigerio sofa for the main living room.’

Just as Olmesdahl‘s downlights are designed to subtly blend in, feature lights are also strategically placed to add drama and definition to different spaces. The Italian handmade-glass hoop feature light over the dining table makes for a contemporary centrepiece – the traditional medium of glass updated by the modernity of the links, its long linear form mimicking the table below. In the spacious gallery-style entrance hall, meanwhile, natural daylight has been harnessed to create a texture of a visual nature. Here, a slatted roof and skylight have been installed, which make way for the slivers of light that dissect the walls during daytime, breathing life into the space without detracting from the impact of the knocked-back walls that provide the perfect backdrop for the owner’s impressive collection of art.

Such is this symbiosis between the decor and architecture that the overall impression is of a clean but carefully considered scheme that soothes with its high-end modern appeal. ‘The house and interiors have a wonderful casual luxury to them,’ says Stefan Antoni. ‘It’s an effortless ultra-chic quality that makes you feel instantly comfortable and at home.’ However, whilst the end result might look seductively simple, in reality, it is anything but.

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