Architecture & Urban Design

House Protea

This house, or houses, can be considered a hybrid dwelling adapting its programme to the family’s evolving needs while its facades mirror the cliff faces that dot the Cape Town skyline. Based on a U-shaped plan, one wing is inhabited by a husband and wife and their children, while their widowed father lives in other. They are connected by a shared living space that opens up onto a densely planted, highly private and secure courtyard, where Shabbat can be celebrated by large groups of friends and family.

Inspired by the cliffs of Table Mountain, the facade is an abstracted cliff-face built out of off-shutter concrete with the aim of learning from nature. The recesses and ridges are designed to support the growth of endemic air-plants and succulents so that they will be able to survive without the intense ‘life support systems’ of normal gardens. The urban nature of the site, the tight parameters of the Cape Town Zoning Scheme and the client’s desire for a large garden resulted in a perimeter block typology. This results in a “fenceless” yet defensible line of security, shielding the domestic environment from its public context. The left over sidewalk spaces are intensively landscaped, giving back a little bit of greatly lacked green space to the neighbourhood. Nature themes extend into the design of the building as well, with a substantial 1m deep roof-garden that forms a veil of endemic planting, enhancing and completing the architecture.

Completed 2012