WORDS Kerryn Fischer PHOTOS Elsa Young PRODUCTION Luanne Toms, Frank Features
Inspired by its spectacular coastal location, this family home is a daring architectural marriage of art, sculpture and engineering.
There are 360 degrees. Why stick to one?” said the late starchitect Zaha Hadid – and this philosophy could well describe Mica and Marcel Angel’s Llandudno home. At its entrance, concrete slabs suspended over a body of water deliver you to a pair of angular, concrete planes that defy gravity as they slant casually skywards. The entrance is straddled by two linear concrete boxes, one of which is home to an outsized sculptural staircase that runs the full height of the double-volume space. It’s an astonishing first impression.
But then this home is designed to marry not just the disparate aesthetic predilections of its owners – an aspiring clinical psychologist and a racing driver – but also the splendour of its setting. Set on giant granite boulders between Llandudno and Sandy Bay, it was designed by M&B Architects’ Christo Botha in response to its spectacular surrounds. United by a passion for fast cars – and having worked together previously on commercial projects – Christo had
a good idea of Marcel’s love for contemporary, modern architecture. However, his challenge lay in incorporating that with Mica’s preference for a more sculptural, eclectic, lived-in feel, as well as her brief for a space that could accommodate the five children (from 28 to 11 years old) they share between them. And of course, their three dogs, Sishi, Valentino and Paris.
Inspired by the likes of Santiago Calatrava and the aforementioned Zaha Hadid, Christo immediately saw the opportunity to create a sculptural building that could play to Mica’s sensibilities while satisfying Marcel’s penchant for modernism. “My starting point was to mould the house into the rocky landscape so as to create a strong, stable construction, much like an amphitheatre, that could open up to the ocean,” he explains. This allowed the house to adapt easily to the dramatic and changeable microclimate that occurs on the coastline, where the sea can go from gentle lapping waves to giant swell in a matter of hours. “The house definitely moves with the climate – barriers such as the sliding doors on the seafront can disappear into the walls on warm summer days to create a seamless flow between indoors and out, and then act as both insulation and a contained aperture to the elements on Cape Town’s wild, wet winter days,” he adds.
Laid out over three levels with just four bedrooms, the 1 000m2 house is surprisingly intimate given its size and the drama of its entrance façade at street level. To accommodate the varying architectural elements, Christo proposed off-shutter concrete – an easy material to shape to create the kind of cantilevers that were required, but also because it’s honest and grounded, and would provide a consistent materiality throughout.
The subterranean lower level is home to Marcel’s study, as well as the ample parking, laundry and storage areas. The ground level is where the extensive living, dining, kitchen and entertainment areas are located. A guest suite on this level leads out onto the pool and terrace too, while the guest loo is located in an arc of asymmetrical offshutter concrete walls. Upstairs, the main bedroom sits in the centre of the house, flanked by two more bedrooms and
Mica’s study. At the back of this level, a pyjama lounge and playroom lead off the main staircase.
“Our Sunday family lunches, when all five children – some with partners – converge, are a highlight, while our Christmas table seems to increase in size every year. And we wouldn’t have it any other way,” Mica says. For Marcel, who is collaborating on the launch of a new international racing series in South Africa, the house offers a respite from a busy working life, and an opportunity to watch the Grand Prix in his soundproof man cave with friends. “It’s a home that caters to our differing needs perfectly,” says Mica. “Marcel is a social animal while I’m more solitary – yet the house allows space for both our personalities with effortless ease.”