A sculpture in the landscape

Amy
Thursday 15 Dec 2011

Mountainside home integrated into its powerful natural surroundings

Spa House is set on the mountainside on the urban edge of Hout Bay, overlooking the bay and harbour, and surrounded by weathered sandstone formations. The primary design intention was to integrate the building with the powerful landscape and to derive its poetics from the qualities of its surroundings.

The house is separated from the principal residence by a berm, and is connected to it by footpaths. The brief called for a guest house and entertainment facility. It incorporates swimming pools, guest accommodation, spa facilities and general living and poolside areas.

The house is conceived of as a hovering set of elements, suspended over a large waterscape, which forms an extended terrace on the mountainside.

Water constitutes the primary experience of the building. The floor planes are arranged to provide contrasting experiences of water, and the underwater spa with large viewing windows into the pool has a sense of stillness and mystery.

The guest accommodation block hovers dramatically over the water and projects into space towards the mountain and sea. The dining area is submerged below water level, and pool decks are arranged as islands in a sea of water, connected by a bridge.

The building masses are arranged in a dynamic composition, across and counter to the contours of the landscape. The building acts as a windbreak, protecting the pool from the south-easterly winds raking down the mountainside in summer.

The ground floor opens up entirely to the landscape and the interior and exterior finishes are continuous, in order to minimise the distinction between inside and outside and enhance the experience of the building as a light platform in a vast landscape.

Formally, the building comprises a number of separate sculptural forms in a dynamic composition. The base of the building, incorporating pools, relaxation rooms and guest accommodation is entirely of concrete. The superstructure is of steel construction, which is clad in afromosia shiplap boards on timber studwork.

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