Habitat Feb. 2012

JMA Habitat 01/02 2012:

Location: Bantry Bay Cape Town
Architecture: Jenny Mills
Photography: Rob Mills and Greg Cox
Styling: Kate Boswell

As is often the case with Atlantic Seaboard Properties, there was an existing house on this choice piece of real estate. The first floor was removed and the ground floor substantially modified which has resulted in a contemporary home of 425m^2, on a site of just 364m^2

Says architect Jenny Mills, “My brief was uncomplicated: to create a second home in Cape Town for out-of-town clients. They required a family holiday home with seven en suite bedrooms and high echelon entertainment areas. A re-construction was necessary due to limited accommodation in the existing structure, and yet the site was located in a tight urban area. The clients particularly enjoy the position of the property: densely populated and urban, yet very central, convenient and close to beaches, shops and restaurants. It was vital that the pool had to be safe for young children while a balance of privacy for “sub families” had to exist; in synergy with generous connected spaces for shared meals and large scale entertainment. All of this had to reflect and environment that would guarantee essential holiday fun.”

Say the architects: "We achieved a fine balance between respecting constraints (site, client and budget) whilst opening up possibilities and options to improve on the original limitations. This resulted in the achievement of a high value gem of a home in the bustling hub of a busy, built up environment. This was something of a challenging Rubik's Cube to solve."

The clients are an extended and close family who were all involved in the project to some extent. Living far from Cape Town they left a good deal of the design decisions to architect Mills' practice, travelling south only for creative meetings and to view progress.

Subsequently, the brief did change; the clients improving specifications as the project developed,and as they became more excited in being able to visualise and understand the value of the work.

Views of the sea were a prerequisite, as was outdoor living space, light and natural sunlight for relaxing and lounging outside. Jenny Mills recalls: "There was no carte blanche from a budget perspective but we soon realised that the client was receptive to good ideas and understood the value of investing in the right direction. Once we had found solutions to the planning and accommodation requirements we explored alternatives and options on finishes as we progressed, this enabled them to add to and improve the specifications throughout the process."

Ceilings and lighting are custom-designed while the kitchen and bathrooms (overleaf) are well considered and form a detailed layer of interest for functional lifestyle.

The architect created a holiday home that delights its owners. It provides for a carefree lifestyle in carefully considered spaces.

"As the architects we were briefed to create an airy, spacious ambience that contrasted with the high-density location. We focused the house on the diagonal sea views and used a stepped, layered format to expose more rooms to the views and natural light. The planning is very compact but spaces are comfortable. We captured subtle views towards the ocean and Lions Head through the surrounding urban fabric and were able to frame these for privacy, while opening up to take advantage of natural light!

To achieve a more spacious feel the ceiling design extends from interior to exterior and creates larger light-reflecting planes. This continuous plane also extends the view, either inwards or outwards, so accentuating the impression of space.

The rooms with diagonal vistas have open corner doors or windows to keep them uninterrupted. Glass balustrades enhance the sense of connection to the exterior. Other than the challenges of working in a compact urban area, which resulted in the design requiring a good deal of tailoring and refinement, this project was problem-free.

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