Knysna Holiday Home

WORDS Ami Kapilevich PHOTOS Jan Ras PRODUCTION Sumien Brink

When a UK-based family built a holiday home in Pezula Estate, it became a symbol of their strong South African roots.

From the moment that Paul Spambo, a South African doctor travelling in the UK at the time, fell in love with his future wife Viki, who was working as an ER nurse, their relationship has been a synthesis of different cultures.

Viki wanted to get married in a castle, but instead of settling on a ballroom in Cheshire the couple held their wedding ceremony in a castle on Noetzie Beach and the reception at Zachary’s at Pezula Golf Estate in Knysna.

The following year, Paul bought a plot of land at Pezula and they reached out to Guy Ailion of KSR Architects to design a house that was not only an aesthetic tribute to two cultures but also a space where they could meet, meld and grow together. “As a South African working in the UK,” says Paul, “I wanted a space that could give our daughters a sense of their South African roots.”

Guy enlisted Rik Ørts-Hansen of TCNO Architects to work within the aesthetic framework set out by Pezula’s design committee.

“In the end,” says Rik, “the scheme is a combination of TCNO’s input and Guy’s original concept of having a hub where family and friends can gather – like the central space in a village for an imbizo [“gathering” in Zulu, usually one called by the traditional leader] – with individual living units attached to galleries that weave the spaces together. Each bedroom is orientated to have a unique framed view of the landscape.”

The imbizo concept came from Viki’s desire to create a space where the two families can come together for celebrations and to relax. “I just wanted a very sociable house,” she says. “I have many good memories of my family from the UK and Paul’s South African family meeting over the Christmas and New Year period.”

For Paul, who grew up in Umtata and whose father had a farm in Maclear in the Eastern Cape, the house also needed to reflect his Hlubi tribal heritage. One of the rooms is a walk-in cold room designed to accommodate a whole slaughtered sheep hung from the ceiling. “Every time we had a gathering, my dad used to slaughter a sheep,” says Paul, “so the butchery is reminiscent of that tradition, but interpreted in a contemporary way.”

The humidor near the bar also takes on an interesting cultural nuance. “Smoking is part of African culture as an after-dinner activity,” says Paul, “but the concept of a cigar lounge itself is European. So again there is a mix of cultural traditions.”

The house is decorated in a style that Paul calls “contemporary tribal”, which blends the family’s modern lifestyle and traditional roots. But this special house is where two worlds will come together to make shared memories for generations to come.

You can book to stay at the family’s Pezula Estate holiday home via airbnb.