Cape Town-based architect Chris van Niekerk installs minimalist house in Cape Town’s Steenberg mountains

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Renowned Cape Town-based architect Chris van Niekerk has unveiled “Mountain House”, a breathtaking minimalist abode nestled in the rugged Steenberg Ridge, just south of Cape Town. Constructed as a getaway for a Belgian couple seeking refuge during the chilly European winters, the home is an architectural marvel that pays homage to the landscape it occupies.

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Designed as a series of linear, grey blocks set at varying heights, the layout takes inspiration from the building that previously occupied the site. The staggered heights of the blocks seamlessly mirror the mountain’s slope. In van Niekerk’s words, “This building is nestled in a manner to suggest it is neither elevated nor buried.”

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The interiors of Mountain House are just as impressive as its exterior. A majority of the living spaces are located on the upper level, featuring a U-shaped floor plan that embraces a terrace and swimming pool. This includes a vast glass-walled space accommodating the lounge, dining room, and kitchen. The primary bedroom suite, complete with a sunken bath in its en-suite, is positioned behind this area. In contrast, a guest room, study, and sauna occupy the opposite wing.

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On the lower level, there’s a third bedroom and utility areas, offering a cozier ambiance.

Materials were chosen with utmost care to enhance the minimalist aesthetic. Sections of the house feature reinforced concrete, which underwent sandblasting to achieve a textured finish, while other parts comprise brickwork finished in lime plaster using a ‘bagging’ technique. This approach maintained the brick texture’s visibility and ensured a harmonized color palette throughout the house.

Glass plays a pivotal role in the design, with doors and windows stretching from floor to ceiling in various rooms. This design choice not only facilitates the indoor-outdoor living experience but also provides occupants with unparalleled views of the surrounding mountainous terrain. The panoramic views stretch from False Bay to Table Mountain in the north, especially pronounced in the dining and living room.

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Beyond its architectural elements, Mountain House showcases pieces from Mūvek, a furniture company co-launched by van Niekerk. Signature items like the MŪ61 Lounge Chair and the aluminium MŪ1111 Round Table can be found adorning the spaces.

Surrounding the property, the landscaping emphasizes indigenous, drought-resistant plant species. Over time, as these plants grow, they will further blend the structure with its environment, as van Niekerk puts it, allowing “structure and landscape to become one.”

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Chris van Niekerk, previously known as The Fold Architects, has made quite the mark in the architectural world, with past projects like House IIIA gaining attention for its distinct pink exterior.

Mountain House was photographed by Greg Cox from Bureaux Agency.

Project credits:

  • Architect: Chris van Niekerk
  • Engineer: Inovic Structural Design
  • Quantity surveyor: DA Quantity Surveyors
  • Mechanical engineer: Jo Lubbe & Associates
  • Wet services engineer: Benatar Consulting
  • Landscape architect: Mary Maurel Gardens
  • Energy consultants: Greenplan Consultants
  • Main contractor: Eurodev Projects
  • Landscape contractor: Heimo Schulzer Gardens.

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