The house on the hill that became the house of the future
Story Natalie Boruvka and Colin O’Mara Davis Production Colin O’Mara Davis Photographs Adam Letch
When design goes beyond visual appeal to take hold of an emotional response, then a level of artistry is reached that justifiably warrants the use of words such as ‘superlative’ and ‘consummate’. That kind of design became a house on Signal Hill – and it is as engaging as it is disarming. In a roundabout way, it references the ‘60s concept 'World of Tomorrow' houses. However, the authenticity and integrity to materials and their use make it feel less staid, less artificial and, perhaps, less self-aware.
The structure – a handsome interplay of robust horizontal and vertical vectors – enfolds a remarkably alluring living environment distinguished by a portfolio of lavish finishes. It is in the intimate coupling of exterior and interior detailing that the seductive nature of the home manifests itself.
Originally designed by Stefan Antoni Olmesdahl and Truen Architects (SAOTA), the new homeowners approached Antoni Associates (SAOTA’s interior design and decor division) to oversee an extension that would meet their lifestyle requirements. Once stripped to its shell, an ambitious refurbishment ensued that saw the addition of two children’s bedroom suites, a gym, home cinema and a generous pool terrace.
‘The client’s brief was to create a sumptuous, cutting-edge 21st -century luxury residence that incorporated the use of opulent, bespoke fittings and tailored finishes,’ informs director Mark Rielly.
ABOVE LEFT Beautifully detailed Persian rugs, part of the client’s private collection, juxtapose sensitively with the modern, eclectic furnishings. Leather Rialto sofa by Iloft and light fitting from Radiant Lighting.
ABOVE RIGHT A timber pergola, enclosed by a gravity-defying cantilevered concrete eyebrow, offers the pool gazebo welcome shade. In contrast to the pale iroko timber used in the seating and raised deck – and the adjacent white Volakas terrace – black Nero Maraquino marble has been used to clad a cantilevered fireplace that extends beyond the perimeter of the pool. The strong lines of the Ninix loungers by Royal Botania are a perfect complement.
A walkabout through the home is like an express tutorial in the exemplary application of the principles and elements of design. Line (the most basic of elements) is shrewdly amassed both vertically and horizontally, building an engaging layering of interior and exterior features. The latter sees the placement of slatted timber sliding screens that assist in light and glare control as well as affording privacy from neighbouring properties. An energetic patterning emerges from the random layering of the slats, softening the hard edges of the modern architecture and prompting a play of light and shadow both on the exterior surface and within the rooms. Providing a contrast within the framework of bold structural linearity, lacquered pearl shutters and sliding screens featuring a layered circular motif continue the rhythm of pattern within. Temporal engagement is activated by rolling the screens, creating a moire effect because it's not just about the engineered surface appeal but how the elements become an interactive play of light and refraction.
ABOVE LEFT The vast pool terrace clad in white Volakas marble offers breathtaking views of Signal Hill and the cityscape below.
ABOVE RIGHT The extraordinary backlit onyx feature fireplace and kitchen counter establish an extravagant, bold geometry against the
drama of the black ceiling, the joinery and the pristine marble floor. The kitchen was custom-designed by Antoni Associates and
installed by Reto Kitchens. The glossy black Yago dining table and Sophia dining chairs are by Porada.
With movement initiated, the necessary complement of rest arises and this is established by extraordinary customised fittings, such as the magnificent backlit onyx feature fireplaces that ground the show-stopping central living and dining area on either end. Offset by a black ceiling perforated with a fibre-optic Milky Way and white Volakas slab flooring, the symmetry of these focal points is accentuated by the bespoke obsidian units framing further backlit features in the kitchen and bar counters. A sensitive incorporation of the beautiful natural environs of the Table Mountain National Park is seen in the vignette of bluegum trees on either side of the suspended fireplace in the living area. Together with the adjacent span of terrace, the house is a celebration of alfresco. Throughout the design scheme, ceiling features and recess-lit bulkheads provide drama and emphasise architectural space, but they also bear another function: entertainment console anyone? At the tap of a touch-panel, you control the house's six-zone audio system. Tap again and the motorised television pane descends from its ceiling recess, as televisions do.
ABOVE LEFT The playden features a wall-length tropical aquarium and a collection of appropriately playful, signature furniture. Extra Big Shadow floor lamp by Marcel Wanders for Cappellini, Big Bea chaise by Porada and in the foreground, the circular-seated Notus pouff.
ABOVE MIDDLE Pearl-lacquered internal screens add another pattern layer to the interior, both in their circular motif and in the ever-changing shadows effected.
In the children’s playden the elements of shape and form exchange animated discourse, specifically the repetition of the circle.
‘The client wanted us to create a space that was captivating and playful, yet complementary to the overall concept of the project,’ explains Mark. The circular element is taken to delightful fore, standing out in the pale ice-cream notes of the seats atop the Notus pouff ottoman, the delightful Big Bea ottoman and Marcel Wanders’ Cappellini Shadow light. It is, admittedly, difficult to ponder the bountiful soft furnishings when there’s a 65-inch plasma screen tethered to a PlayStation 3, Wii and Xbox all whispering your name. Your inner child becomes a sullen brat, feverishly wanting to prod a remote control. Then, you notice the tropical aquarium window and, for a moment, you stand transfixed and wonder: ‘Why doesn’t my playden have an aquarium?’ It is also around this time that you realise you should have listened to your mother and married a doctor.
Despite all evidence to the contrary, this house hasn't got full automation quite down
pat just yet. For all its magic and gadgetry,
you’ll still have to pick up the kids from school the old-fashioned way.
Antoni Associates 021-468-4400, antoniassociates.co.za
Stefan Antoni Olmesdahl Truen Architects 021-468-4400, stefanantoni.co.za