WHERE THE HEART
THIS HOUT BAY HOME MERGES SEAMLESSLY WITH ITS SURROUNDINGS, WHILE BOTH PAYING HOMAGE TO THE PAST AND PAVING THE WAY FORWARD FOR A CLOSE-KNIT FAMILY.
the driveway towards the house, two things are immediately evident: the striking design – a large, dark-wooded, cabinlike box floating above the green lawn – and the considered attention to detail. Built on the same property as the owners’ childhood home, one of those details was deciding where to place the new construction relative to the existing structure.
And Jan-Dirk van der Walt of SALT Architects got it just right, with window placements that frame both childhood memories and spectacular views of the mountains. The resulting light that floods the home was carefully considered too, with the architects conducting light studies as an integral part of the design process: despite being naturally well-lit, it avoids being overly harsh or hot. The bedrooms and living areas are, for example, north-facing, while overhangs above windows allow in just the right amount of direct sunlight.
The other trump card SALT played is the timber that clads the upper storey.Not only does it trick the eye into suspending the building above the earth, but it also softens the design’s modern linearity. “We first explored charring it using shou sugi ban,” says Jan-Dirk, explaining its dark colouring. “But this traditional Japanese curing method is quite expensive. The wood was eventually treated in a similar way through a thermal process, and sealed with Rubio Monocoat.”
Up close, the contrast between the white and black exterior is striking – but if you take a step or two back to observe the house in the context of its surroundings, the colour scheme seems to merge with the mountains.
There was plenty of input from owners Sharyn and Sean in the design process too, and in a truly collaborative sense, the home was built one WhatsApp at a time. In the months leading up to its completion, the couple and Jan-Dirk played a tournament of text tennis, sharing ideas to turn collective thoughts into their reality.
Sharyn – an interior designer with her own business, Conscious Spaces – expertly threaded her personal style into the home. You can see her love for the colour green dappled throughout, and combining with finishes that are a tactile treat. It’s almost impossible not to run your hands over cool granite kitchen counters, or feel your feet firmly rooted to the ground in the shower. From the concrete floors with speckled terrazzo detail to the vertically stacked stone walls in the bathrooms, the surfaces add a beautiful visual contrast to the plain white walls.
While there’s a strong and welcoming sense of open space inside the home, it’s one of contained vastness: it’s expansive, but without a sense of disconnect. Sharyn and Sean quip that it’s great to be able to hear their kids, even when they’re not in plain sight. There’s a wonderful connection here – and the windows that frame happy memories of a childhood home, and the laughter and play of a new generation that fill the new space, are all gentle reminders that life is handed to us moment by moment. saltarchitects.co.za