A SAOTA-DE­SIGNED hol­i­day re­treat strikes the per­fect in­door-out­door bal­ance

A Pringle Bay home strikes the per­fect bal­ance be­tween in­door-out­door liv­ing


pringle Bay may be less than an hour-and-a-half ’s drive from cape Town, but they’re worlds apart. The com­bi­na­tion of beach and river­side, and the dis­tinc­tive fyn­bos-cov­ered moun­tains and val­ley, make it uniquely beau­ti­ful and give it a pri­mal grav­i­tas.

‘We went on hol­i­day to Pringle Bay one year and stayed in a lit­tle cot­tage,’ says Philip olmes­dahl, a direc­tor of ar­chi­tec­ture firm saota. ‘It was dur­ing our stay that we fell in love with this hol­i­day des­ti­na­tion.’ dur­ing a walk along the beach they spot­ted what would be­come their hol­i­day home. ‘We saw a for-sale sign out­side a won­der­ful old beach house and we in­stantly fell in love with it and the site,’ he re­calls. The olmes­dahls jumped at the op­por­tu­nity, and for the next seven years they es­caped there from the city at least two week­ends a month and ev­ery se­cond school hol­i­day.

Philip says the old brick house was char­ac­ter­ful, but run down. ‘It was di­lap­i­dated, the land­scape was de­graded and the house was in the wrong place on site,’ he ex­plains. he might have been there on hol­i­day, but as an ar­chi­tect, he spent a lot of time pon­der­ing de­signs for a new house. he watched the path of the sun, thought about the views, and de­vised ideas to deal with the ex­tremes of the weather that char­ac­terises the area.

When the time came to build a new house, he thought about how to ‘shake off the salty winds’ and let in the sun and views.

as breath­tak­ing as the views were, the ag­gres­sive ex­tremes of the cli­mate meant any ef­fec­tive de­sign had to strike a fine bal­ance be­tween the im­pulse to open up, and the need for shel­tered spa­ces.

Philip de­signed the house to ef­fec­tively turn its back on the wind, and cre­ate a pro­tected court­yard en­abling the par­tic­u­lar inside-out­side life­style that de­fines the south-african hol­i­day ex­pe­ri­ence.

de­spite the sleek­ness and mod­ernist re­fine­ment of its forms, the house had to be ro­bust. Philip stuck to sim­ple ma­te­ri­als such as raw con­crete and bagged brick­work, with rhinez­inc cladding on the first floor, for the ex­te­rior. he car­ried these fin­ishes through to the in­te­ri­ors, too, which gives the house a grounded char­ac­ter. The floors are pol­ished con­crete, mak­ing an un­ob­tru­sive tran­si­tion from the out­side in. Philip calls it ‘bare­foot lux­ury’ – less pre­oc­cu­pied with lux­u­ri­ous fin­ishes and ar­chi­tec­tural ex­pres­sion and more about put­ting the hol­i­day ex­pe­ri­ence first. The open plan ar­range­ment of the liv­ing ar­eas also helps to cre­ate a re­laxed at­mos­phere, en­cour­ag­ing ca­sual in­ter­ac­tion be­tween spa­ces.

The up­stairs bed­rooms pop up a level in glass boxes to cre­ate more fan­tas­tic views. Be­cause of the slope and the hor­i­zon­tal em­pha­sis of the de­sign, how­ever, the house re­mains un­ob­tru­sive and sen­si­tive to its set­ting, nes­tled in the land­scape.

The kitchen is Philip’s favourite room. It is in­te­grated with a break­fast lounge, which has a sofa that can seat the whole fam­ily.

‘It’s the cen­tre point of the home where we con­nect as a fam­ily, es­pe­cially in the morn­ings or watch­ing the sun­set,’ he says.

The liv­ing spa­ces all con­nect with out­door ar­eas, and the land­scap­ing brings the set­ting right up to the house – even into it. The cen­tral court­yard be­comes part of the liv­ing space when you open the slid­ing doors, and it’s planted with fyn­bos and trees that push through an open­ing in the roof.


‘That also helps to bring light into the core of the home,’ says Philip, ‘and mean­ing­fully in­te­grates the land­scape into the home.’

Be­ing a direc­tor of an ar­chi­tec­ture firm that has an in­te­ri­ors and fur­ni­ture de­sign di­men­sion – ar­rcc In­te­ri­ors – has its ad­van­tages, too. The so­fas and din­ing ta­ble are cus­tom made and the rest of the fur­nish­ings, a com­bined ef­fort by ar­rcc and the fam­ily, is an eclec­tic mix of lo­cal and in­ter­na­tional de­signs.

soft leathers, white linens and sheep­skins bring ad­di­tional com­fort and rich tex­tures to the ca­sual beach style. Fab­rics in shades of white and grey cre­ate an im­me­di­ate sense of calm, ac­cented with orig­i­nal Moroc­can Ber­ber rugs and colour­ful ke­lims. Beau­ti­ful de­tails such as the punched brass cladding of the liv­ing room fire­place are warm and play­ful, and the art is re­stricted to cer­tain ar­eas of the home ‘for max­i­mum im­pact’. The fur­nish­ings in the bed­rooms were also kept mod­est and neu­tral, serv­ing the views rather than draw­ing at­ten­tion to it­self.

‘The wild and un­spoilt fea­tures and nat­u­ral beauty of Pringle Bay are what make it so special for us,’ says Philip. ‘I love this part of the cape.’ he’s de­signed a hol­i­day home that ex­presses ex­actly that – a re­treat that, through its sen­si­tiv­ity and def­er­ence to its set­ting, is a sub­tle ma­chine for the ap­pre­ci­a­tion and en­joy­ment of time spent there. SAOTA 8 saota.com n

The hor­i­zon­tal line of The roof floats into The views of The land­scape while cre­at­ing a cov­ered Ter­race on The other side of The liv­ing room

clock­wise, from top left The wrap­around win­dows in The mas­ter bed­room are de­signed To cap­ture The panoramic views; The main en-suite bath­room; sim­ple, mod­est fur­nish­ings in one of The chil­dren’s bed­room

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