Kleinmond Family Retreat

WORDS Amelia Brown IMAGES Swansilva, Markus Jordaan and Epitome Studios VIDEO Epitome Studios


Architects and husband-and-wife team Johan Swanepoel and Ann-Mari Da Silva of Swansilva Architecture are behind the design of this environmentally- and budget-conscious contemporary holiday home in the small coastal town of Kleinmond in the Overberg region of the Western Cape.

Situated 200 m from the coastline with views to the north of the Palmietberg mountain, the property’s corner plot influenced its layout, as did the owners’ brief for connection – to have the cooking, dining, living and braai activities at the heart of the home. In addition to the communal and entertaining spaces, the house has three en-suite bedrooms and a ground floor bedroom-cum-library or office. There’s a one-bedroom apartment on top of the garage with separate access via an external staircase and a balcony that affords sea views to the south and mountain views to the west.

The house consists of two boxes that sit on top of one another and “grow” in the direction of the respective views: The living room expands in volume and scale towards the mountain, while the main bedroom box, cantilevered over the living room, extends towards the ocean. The walls have been slightly sloped to emphasise this idea and a variety of window types take in the views, including a skylight in the living room space.

The living room roof has been covered in a fynbos roof garden, which provides a seamless “green view” from the main bedroom towards the mountain. Johan and Ann-Mari also wanted to replace some of the flora disturbed and removed during the build and to encourage local bird and insect life to inhabit the roof. “The building has been pulled back from the street to allow for the fynbos to take over the remainder of the plot,” says Johan, referring to the rejection of the manicured green lawns of neighbouring properties in favour of exhibiting the beauty of the natural flora.

As for the connectivity, the communal spaces are all arranged in an L-shape around the central courtyard, which sees timber decking surround a wild white pear tree, with the bedroom block placed on the other side. “The courtyard has been conceptualised as an extension of the living and dining areas and the feeling of being connected to the outside is enhanced when the large stacking sliding doors are open,” explains Ann-Mari.

“The window openings have been apportioned and arranged according to the view it frames, all the while letting in the level of sunlight required to keep the spaces cool in summer and warm in winter. The western elevation has been left devoid of any window openings to prevent the harsh western sun from penetrating the house and excessively heating the interior.”

To work within the budget, the team chose cost-effective materials that have a feeling of the handmade: bagged brick, off-shutter concrete soffits and a “raw” Cretecote skim-on floor coating. “The bricks are locally sourced non-face brick, painted to expose the texture and enhance the feeling of engaging with a handmade object. At the same time it renders the building in a white coat that reflects the changes of atmospheric light,” says Ann-Mari.

In the kitchen, timber counter tops and dark grey cupboards contrast the “blank canvas” white interior: The owners are art lovers and, while the decor has been kept relatively simple, Johan and Ann-Mari worked with them to decide on which walls to hang colourful pieces.

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