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


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. lin­; vd­

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...

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