ONE AND ONLY Sen­si­tive to its lush for­est en­vi­ron­ment, this Hig­govale abode is the Cape Town base of an in­ter­na­tional de­signer – and it shows

BUILT IN THE early noughties, THIS CAPE TOWN HOME quickly at­tained iconic sta­tus – AND ITS OWN­ERS, THE founders of global fur­ni­ture brand Lin­teloo, STILL LOVE IT JUST AS MUCH as they did when they first moved in

House and Leisure (South Africa) - - Contents - TEXT VICKI SLEET STYLING GEMMA BEDFORTH PHO­TO­GRAPHS GREG COX

As you make your way from Cape Town’s buzzing CBD up into the leafy vales of Hig­govale on the slopes of Ta­ble Moun­tain, a for­est canopy of trees helps cre­ate a mag­i­cal am­bi­ence, where the sound of the city is dimmed. It’s this rest­ful oth­er­world­li­ness, just five min­utes from the city cen­tre, that en­cour­aged in­ter­na­tional fur­ni­ture su­per­star Jan te Lin­telo and his part­ner Lars Niko­la­jsen to buy and build here al­most 20 years ago.

The duo were on their sec­ond visit to the Mother City, and the city had drawn them in. ‘From our first visit, we were in love,’ says Lars. ‘ We were drawn to the food and restau­rants, the feel­ing of op­ti­mism, the weather – and we met great peo­ple al­most im­me­di­ately, so we came back. Of course, like ev­ery­one who falls in love with a place, we started to look at prop­erty.’

Try as they might, though, they bat­tled to find some­thing that spoke to them. ‘ We had seen the work of Anya van der Merwe and Ma­cio Miszewski of Van Der Merwe Miszewski Ar­chi­tects else­where in Hig­govale, and we re­ally liked their aes­thetic, but there was nowhere to build any­thing. Then an agent took us to see the last plot in Hig­govale,’ says Lars. ‘That no­body wanted to buy,’ laughs Jan.

The ‘plot’ in ques­tion was ac­tu­ally three ad­ja­cent er­ven – an over­grown spot with a stream gush­ing through it in the win­ter months – and the land­scape is ef­fec­tively a sharp and nar­row ravine de­fined by large boul­ders and a lush for­est of trees. Need­less to say, it did not ap­pear to be par­tic­u­larly hab­it­able. ‘ But we ab­so­lutely loved the for­est and the site’s wild­ness, and we knew that if any­one could make it work, Van Der Merwe Miszewski could,’ says Lars. Serendip­i­tously, Van der Merwe had played in the ravine as a child and after a few months of plan­ning, the stu­dio pre­sented a metic­u­lously made model propos­ing its mas­ter­ful so­lu­tion for the tricky moun­tain­side site.

The aim was to save as many trees and rocks as pos­si­ble, and to have as lit­tle im­pact on the en­vi­ron­ment as could be achieved. ‘It is such a priv­i­lege to be so close to na­ture, and we re­ally wanted our home to be at one with its sur­rounds,’ says Jan. The re­sult is a gor­geous tes­ta­ment to the skills of the ar­chi­tects and a space that is cra­dled by na­ture, pro­vid­ing its glo­be­trot­ting own­ers (their other home is in Lugano, Switzer­land) with es­sen­tial respite from their busy sched­ules. ‘ We try to get here ev­ery few months; it recharges us. We just love it – and we love hav­ing peo­ple to stay here,’ says Lars.

And what’s not to love? Wher­ever you are in this ex­tra­or­di­nary three-storey space, it’s as if you can reach out and touch the for­est out­side.

Over­sized panes of glass let in the green, while slid­ing wooden screens pro­vide pri­vacy and pro­tec­tion from the sun. There are plenty of pock­ets for ad­mir­ing the en­vi­ron­ment, whether these are on the sun-splashed ter­race, in the up­stairs liv­ing room or from one of the three bed­room suites. All the in­te­rior fit­tings were cus­tom-de­signed to suit the space, and thanks to the com­bi­na­tion of clean lines, tim­ber trims and char­coal steel beams used in its con­struc­tion, this home – lo­cally known as ‘Bridge House’ – looks set to re­main a time­less and iconic piece of South African de­sign.

The abode also plays host to a sig­nif­i­cant col­lec­tion of lo­cal contemporary art. Jan and Lars have an ex­pert eye for en­gag­ing pieces, which they have been ac­quir­ing since they de­cided to put down roots in South Africa. Many of the art­works in the house are early pieces by artists who are now highly re­garded, and are tes­ta­ment to the cou­ple’s abil­ity to spot tal­ent at first glance. ‘ We’ve worked closely with a few contemporary gal­lerists in the Cape, and over time, we’ve also com­mis­sioned a few pieces,’ says Lars. ‘Our big­gest driv­ing fac­tor is that we like art­works with a strong story be­hind them. We never buy for sta­tus – it’s al­ways been for the in­ter­est­ing nar­ra­tives, peo­ple and cir­cum­stances be­hind the pieces.’

The col­lec­tion is, to say the least, ex­ten­sive and ranges from a mag­nif­i­cent Lionel Smit oil paint­ing that dom­i­nates the stair­well to an over­sized hare by ac­claimed sculp­tor Guy du Toit. And it’s ev­i­dent that the cou­ple gleans much joy from shar­ing their many tales of discovery. ‘Many of the artists have ended up be­ing our friends too,’ says Jan.

While Bridge House is a re­mark­able piece of ar­chi­tec­ture, it’s also a home in which its own­ers joy­fully cel­e­brate the fact that they are friends of the arts – and that the peo­ple who cre­ate the arts are friends of theirs. lin­teloo.com; vd­mma.com

PR EVIOUS SPR EA D Con­cep­tu­alised by Van Der Merwe Miszewski Ar­chi­tects, the forested home was de­signed to have as lit­tle im­pact on the en­vi­ron­ment as pos­si­ble.

T HIS PAGE, F ROM TOP Con­nect­ing the three lev­els of Jan te Lin­telo and Lars Niko­la­jsen’s Hig­govale house in Cape Town is a red, black and white col­lage that South African artist Stri­j­dom van der Merwe cre­ated es­pe­cially for the space; wooden pan­els in the kitchen echo the sur­round­ing land­scape.

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