A fifties design meets
African ethnic elements
Beautifully appointed, in Camps Bay, this former fifties style bungalow was renovated and remodelled after Austrian American architect Richard Neutra’s modernist example. Famous for designing Southern Californian homes that tended greatly towards his client’s needs, Neutra’s simplistic, lowslung architectural style is clearly identifiable in this former fifties style bungalow.
Angular, modern and sea-facing, the house is elevated 15m above street level, the property’s steep incline affords sweeping views of the Atlantic, framed generously by its original palm trees. The steps leading up to the house cut through stone terraces that were redesigned to accommodate the garden on different levels.
“We stripped the house down to the bare brickwork and concrete and used that as a canvas, creating clean lines and removing everything that did not have a function or real aesthetic merit”, says Cape Town’s GSQUARED architect, Renato Graca.
This is most evident inside, where the wall dividing the kitchen from the dining room was removed to improve the flow of the place, creating a wide open space. A beam was installed to retain the roof structure in what is now a seamless combination of functional living areas. The sublime kitchen is identifiable mostly by its rectangular black marble splashback, contrasting with the white cupboards.
Crushed cotton drapes and warm, textured wooden cladding offset the stark geometry offering measured aesthetic contrast.
‘We were aiming at a 1950’s feel with an African touch,’ says Graca, and the furniture echoes that era’s interior design. A 1958 Poul Hennigson multi-layered artichoke lamp in the dining area graces a raw wood table surrounded by comfortable Eames DAW chairs from 1950. An oversized black and white print of a herd of elephants in the background lends a peaceful air.
The lounge area’s quirky inbuilt seating is modelled around a feature gas fireplace. Its surrounding wooden cladding is a repeat of the kitchen panels that contribute to a unified look.
A creative mix of Congolese upholstery prints in cool blue and beige hues were introduced by Graca who assisted with the interior décor. His choice of fabrics is gently offset by a blue Arne Jacobsen 1958 egg chair that adds drama to the room with its interesting art deco form without being obtrusive.
In keeping with the African theme, colourful feathered ethnic headdresses adorn the walls in the master bedroom contrasting with the muted stone feature wall. Although starkly utilitarian by design, the space flaunts some striking décor additions such as the red Eero Saarinen’s 1948 womb chair and ottoman and Verner Panton’s 1964 shell pendant lamp.
Flooring, both indoors and out is covered with coloured screed stretching out onto the vast space that is the proverbial James Bond pool deck, all 100 square metres of it. But it’s the exaggerated roof extension jutting over the deck that is the most recognizable characteristic of this property.
Graca calls the build an engineering feat. “We used a cantilevered steel clip-on. It looks wonderful and really creates the dramatic feel of this raised deck.” The roof includes some luxurious details; a water mist system for scorching summers and heat strips for the winter, four integrated loudspeakers and LED light strips. A seat with concealed lighting runs along the edge of the deck and contributes to a setting that is perfect for entertaining guests.
The swimming pool is lit so that it becomes a magical scene at night-time and during the day, the canopy overhead offers a protected spot from which to view the magnificence of the Atlantic Ocean and its golden sunsets.