Head Road 1816 - Fresnaye

This site was a vacant lot on a very steep fall of land on the leeward side of the upper-most road of Fresnaye, above which no development is permitted. The natural banks of Lions Head adjoin this relatively small piece of land, of 572m2 in extent.

The practicalities of the site – steepness and town planning restrictions – were key initial drivers in determining the parameters available. The narrow proportion of the property also necessitated the careful consideration of privacy and bedroom accommodation, which is set back from the street or suitably screened.

Effort was put into capitalising on views to the rear onto Lions Head as well as across Sea Point and the Atlantic Seaboard. Such interesting dynamics impacted on the placement of accommodation, with the required levels of privacy. There is a clear vertical distinction between the living and bedroom accommodation. With young children, the bedrooms needed to be in close proximity to each other and to the parents thus a securable ‘family only’ portion of the home was a result. The upper-most level accommodates the master bedroom; a generous open-plan space inclusive of a dressing area and en suite bathroom, which enjoys bi-directional views, i.e. a sea-facing terrace and a planted courtyard towards Lions Head.

From the entrance a timber staircase accesses the primary living and entertainment area. This open-plan arrangement of dining, lounge, TV lounge, front-of-house kitchen and breakfast room offers seamless connection to the garden, covered terrace and pool. The various functions within this versatile space are subtly defined through level changes, the ceiling plane and sliding doors, which retract into walls when open. The language of the house reflects bold contemporary lines and extended planes, but the introduction of timber has softened and blurred this distinction. Challenges were turned into opportunities where screening elements ensuring privacy have become an integral component of the aesthetic. The juxtaposition of solid mass to large expanses of transparency is transitioned with semi-transparent slatted screens and shutters. These effects are heightened during sunset with a dappled, ephemeral quality of light. As a family home, emphasis was placed on a modern, contemporary aesthetic with a high level of comfort. The architectural language takes its cues from a Spanish approach to simple cubic volumes with punctured openings and planar walls that open up to create generous ocean views.

The angular nature of the site resulted in a number of complex junctions which were embraced, to emphasise the angularity of certain elements while capitalising on the valuable land. The tactile qualities of timber and the way it is used activate the senses – the sound and smell of the hardwood timber underfoot on the staircase sets a tone on entering the house. “This is a remarkable site with amazing views; and it was critical that as large a living area was created with strong connections to the outside living spaces. Such a narrow, steep site often compromises the final outcome but here, with the seamless connection of indoor and outdoor spaces, the heart of the house was successfully extended from boundary to boundary,” says Tamaryn Hammond, Project Architect.

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