This South African home is a celebration of its unique context and the rituals of holiday living.

Portrait of Tammy Strobel

This South African home is a celebration of its unique context and the rituals of holiday living.

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Restio River House is located along the banks of Buffels River close to its mouth in Pringle Bay, a small coastal town less than 100km from Cape Town. It is a holiday home to a family of five, who retreat here approximately two weekends a month.

Having owned the property for seven years, the family decided that it was time for a rebuild. “The brick beach house was dilapidated, the landscape was degraded and the house was in the wrong place on site,” says Philip Olmesdahl, director of Saota.

Starting from a clean slate meant that Philip and the homeowners had the opportunity to design something that would better respond to the site in terms of topography, wind, sun and view.

“The house turns its back on the severe prevailing offshore winds that blow up the river,” says Philip. It now faces north, with a large stairwell that floods the kitchen with glorious morning light.

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The westerly facade of the lounge and terrace look towards Cape Point, the most southerly tip of Cape Town’s False Bay, offering haloed sunset views in the early evening.

The fluidity of the open-plan spaces captures the essence of holiday living. It evokes an easy living atmosphere that makes you want to sit back and relax. At the heart of the home is the kitchen and lounge with a generous sofa, as well as an internal courtyard. The dining and living areas flow seamlessly from the kitchen and lounge. The courtyard brings north light into the interior and connects the home with nature both inside and out, physically and visually. A semi-open terrace leading from the courtyard heightens the engagement with the surrounding landscape. The vantage point of the house allows good access to the surrounding native fynbos and the landscaping of the home incorporates a lot of indigenous vegetation, including iconic South African trees.

The bedrooms are located in the basement and on the second storey. The former is designed with a warm and cosy feel, while the latter takes advantage of the surrounding views. The master bedroom, in particular, “has an open en-suite bathroom and wrap-around windows to appreciate the breathtaking views”, says Philip.

My Reading Room

The architectural language is clean, with a robust quality that reflects its context. “The climate’s sea air and proximity to the river makes this an aggressive environment, so the house finishes need to be robust in character,” says Philip.

Materials such as Rhinozinc external wall cladding, polished concrete floors and off-shutter concrete ceilings were selected for their hard-wearing properties. Restio River House reflects a continuation of the firm’s preoccupation with less “luxurious” finishes creating a more stylish casual reference.

“Even if this was a permanent residence, we would have designed it like a holiday home, because one’s home should be a retreat,” says Philip.



Photos SAOTA