WORDS Amelia Brown IMAGES Niel Vosloo and Jan Ras
Light is the consummate sculptor in this contemporary inner-city Tamboerskloof sanctuary.
Light is a free building material. It’s a phrase that’s stuck with architect Renato Graca of GSquared Architects ever since university. “The correct and clever use of openings has the potential to give you endless joy,” he says as we stand in the kitchen, reverently looking up at Table Mountain. This view was something of a surprise to owner Bradley van den Berg, not because he didn’t know it was there, but because it had been concealed behind an unbroken wall in the original property.
It was only when the walls came down that he could fully appreciate the position of the plot. And in the end, to make way for the two double-volume barn-shaped buildings connected by a double-storey box, the original property had to be razed, barring the front and back boundary walls. Building above the garages on what is essentially the first floor was something of a challenge, but it is this perch that affords a prized elevated view down into the city and across the bay. Beyond letting in an abundance of light, the smart positioning of the home’s apertures performs something of a miracle in dense city living: They reveal the view and glimpses of greenery and direct the gaze so that the neighbouring properties are all but forgotten and privacy is maximised.
You enter through the west barn – the “living” wing – which contains the kitchen and dining area and opens onto the back courtyard. On the opposite side, the east barn holds the three bedrooms, each with en-suites, and downstairs guest bathroom. The living and sleeping quarters are separated by the central entertaining “box”, which opens up onto the veranda, pool and garden in front, and courtyard in the back, and is punctuated by the wonderful soft-serve spiral staircase.
While the exterior is sharp and linear, the internal structure features unexpected curves. Evolving light throughout the day and a monochrome palette help to emphasise the interior architecture, and create an amazing canvas for Bradley’s collection of art and design. He did the interior design himself, choosing all of the finishes and even getting involved in their execution. In addition to natural light, he paid careful attention to the artificial lighting, ensuring layered illumination and fittings that add to the overall aesthetic.
Influenced by a creative family, Bradley has been immersed in design professionally for close to two decades, having been involved in broadcasting and creating a myriad of successful productions. His astuteness at spotting opportunity and talent has been an asset not just in his career, but in his savvy property history and his discerning investment pieces – he’s been a long-time supporter of James Mudge, Gregor Jenkin, Laurie Wiid van Heerden and Tonic Design. This passion for real estate started young – this is his seventh property – but more than shrewd investments, he emphasises that these have all been homes first and foremost, each one allowing him to experience a new part of the city, and express and hone his design personality. As an executive producer juggling multiple projects, Bradley travels frequently so it’s essential for his home to be a sanctuary for him and his partner and their family of beloved cats and dogs. He has amassed his collection over decades, across continents, attending design shows, hunting down sales and forgoing clothes to lug back pieces in his luggage. Every piece holds a story.
And just as the changing light affects the home’s structure, turning the stairs into a sculpture, so Bradley takes great pleasure in rotating his much-loved collections.“With a mostly monochrome interior, the colour comes from the things that I can change,” he explains. And the other source of colour is from the profusion of plants, another passion of Bradley’s, also amassed over years. They thrive in this greenhouse atmosphere helping to reinforce that sense of healing refuge and inviting a connection to the garden that those cleverly positioned windows and doors allow in.