Condé Nast House & Garden - - DESIGN NOTES -

against the bu­colic back­drop of no­ord­hoek. For ar­chi­tects saskia Ver­meiren and Matthew Beatty, this was the ob­jec­tive: any­thing but a con­ven­tional beach house. ‘The idea was that we wanted it to re­sem­ble a sculp­ture in the land­scape,’ Matthew re­calls, and the roughly tex­tured, Le cor­bus­ier-throw­back façade lends the home a dis­tinctly earthen qual­ity, as if it were a ceramic just plucked from the kiln.

de­spite its chis­elled good looks, how­ever, this is truly a fam­ily home and ev­ery inch of the ram­bling 2 000-square-me­tre prop­erty is well trod­den by the clan of avid surfers, as six-year-old raphael races be­tween the gar­den and play area, and two-year-old Freya tod­dles to the liv­ing room. ‘We want our chil­dren play­ing out in the wild, un­struc­tured land­scape,’ saskia in­sists, and when they’re not at the beach or hik­ing, the out­doors-lov­ing fam­ily are able to open up the win­dows and doors and usher the land­scape in. ‘our build­ings are al­ways very con­nected to their site,’ states Matthew, re­fer­ring to the kind of projects the hus­band-and wife team tackle at their bou­tique cape Town firm, Beatty Ver­meiren. so when it came to plot­ting out their fam­ily base, they sought to sew the

rugged sur­rounds of no­ord­hoek into the very fab­ric of the struc­ture. ‘We love the wild­ness of the area,’ Matthew ex­plains. ‘You feel like you can es­cape com­pletely the mo­ment you get out on the moun­tain or coast.’

em­brac­ing the un­tamed, Matthew and saskia de­vised a thor­oughly mod­ernist cu­bic form, opt­ing for pre­cise an­gles and a raw aes­thetic. ‘We fo­cus on hand­made build­ings, which in­cor­po­rate nat­u­ral ma­te­ri­als,’ says saskia. and in keep­ing with the ‘hand­made’ theme, the pair served as both ar­chi­tects and con­trac­tors on site, ef­fec­tively build­ing the struc­ture with their own hands. craft is at the essence of the de­sign, and they scoured the cape for ma­te­ri­als that would com­ple­ment their ap­proach, from the load-bear­ing brick – a hand­made, low-fire cube with a re­claimed look – to the slen­der steel frames that slice the win­dows into rec­ti­lin­ear facets, cast­ing an an­gu­lar shadow through­out the in­te­rior.

The per­va­sive nat­u­ral mo­tifs ex­tend to the art­work, and inside, bleached walls func­tion as a can­vas for their col­lec­tion, pep­pered with pieces by saskia’s fa­ther,

Jan, a no­table south african artist. The pair find them­selves drawn to art­work with a de­fined patina such as the se­ries that Jan drew on Lokta paper from nepal. ‘We like the jux­ta­po­si­tion of raw, african tex­ture with this Bauhaus-style clean-lined build­ing,’ says saskia, and tac­til­ity is ex­pressed in ap­pli­ca­tions such as rough linen, raf­fia and ceramics. ‘We have ac­cess to such amaz­ing ma­te­ri­als so we re­ally want to work within the african id­iom,’ says saskia. In keep­ing with their pen­chant

for the mod­ernist school, the cou­ple also opted to fill the in­te­ri­ors with mid­cen­tury fur­ni­ture clas­sics by pi­o­neers such as Mar­cel Breuer and charles and ray eames.

Vo­lu­mi­nous pro­por­tions and swathes of glass let light wash the in­te­rior, and by ma­nip­u­lat­ing per­spec­tive through a se­ries of struc­tural open­ings and clos­ings, the cou­ple were able to con­nect the spa­ces vis­ually. ‘You can stand on the top floor and see what’s go­ing on in the lounge,’ says Matthew, ‘and you can sit in the lounge and see what’s go­ing on in the study’ – handy when keep­ing an eye on raphael and Freya. The down­stairs liv­ing area is per­haps where you’re best treated to the sense of lofti­ness with a glass cut-out that re­ally em­pha­sises the in­door-out­door feel. up­stairs, the use of cross ven­ti­la­tion en­cour­ages the breeze to move through the rooms, elim­i­nat­ing the need for air-con­di­tion­ing, while the nearby green­ery casts dap­pled sun­shine inside. ‘We have these beau­ti­ful trees on the one side of the build­ing,’ saskia ex­plains, ‘and we wanted the bed­rooms to open into the canopy of leaves so they al­most feel like tree­houses.’

‘You can’t talk about a home without talk­ing about the peo­ple who live in it,’ Matthew elab­o­rates and, for this home, it needed to be flex­i­ble enough for the fam­ily to grow and evolve. ‘We wanted some­thing that both re­flects our life­style and was calm­ing,’ he muses. ‘In an in­ter­est­ing way, this house is a phys­i­cal man­i­fes­ta­tion of my­self and saskia’s re­la­tion­ship – it’s about fam­ily and it’s about de­sign.’ Beatty Ver­meiren beat­tyver­

clock­wise, from top the din­ing room ta­ble was bought on auc­tion and is sur­rounded by orig­i­nal robin day chairs; a read­ing cor­ner in the home is filled with mid-cen­tury fur­ni­ture; the stairs are off-shut­ter con­crete clad in siberian larch. the balustrades are also larch; matthew and saskia drew in­spi­ra­tion from raphael’s draw­ings to de­sign his bed op­po­site page, clock­wise, from top left a por­trait of saskia and matthew’s son, raphael, by saskia’s fa­ther, Jan, hangs in the main bed­room; the kitchen fea­tures honed car­rara mar­ble and an­other art­work by saskia’s fa­ther; saskia, matthew, raphael and freya

clock­wise a yel­low throw from coun­try road adds colour to freya’s bed­room; the mas­ter bath­room; an out­door shower area is per­fect for rins­ing off post-surf

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