A Dream in White by Uta Abendroth | 31st August, 2018 | Prime Properties
The White House Beach Villa stands proudly yet snugly in Pearl Bay on the west coast of South Africa. Some 80 kilometres north of Cape Town, Yzerfontein is known for its long white beaches and views stretching miles out over the Atlantic Ocean. The architect was inspired by the spray of the waves and the fine pristine sand during the design of the “White House”: the full spectrum of nuanced whites graces this holiday home, accented with soft blues. The overall feel is as relaxed as it is elegant.
In the bathtub, at the dining table, or in bed – wherever one happens to be in the “White House Beach Villa”, the Atlantic Ocean is a constant companion. Idyllically tucked away in the dunes of Pearl Bay near Yzerfontein, just a few footsteps from the water’s edge, residents here wake up to exactly the same sound every morning – of the meditative crashing of the ocean waves – and fall asleep to the very same ambient soundscape. Everything about the beach-house has been designed to evoke a holiday feel. “The moment you arrive at the ‘White House’ you’re inherently reminded of all those happy beach holidays you spent as a child – full of excitement and romance, without a care in the world,” says Pieter Silberbauer. He founded the company Rustic Homes together with Clive Joseph in the 1980s, which went on to establish a name for itself in South Africa as a pioneer in the design and construction of wooden homes. Silberbauer himself spent most of his school holidays as a child in the wooden hut “Redlands”, which was built in 1864 and owned by his great-grandmother, as well as in his grandparents’ home “Rheenendal”. Both are located in South Africa. From an early age he has always been fascinated by wood and its special qualities as a building material. Commissioned to build the “White House Beach Villa”, he set about envisaging the design together with the architect Bobby Welman. “Inspiration for the building came in part from Yzerfontein’s natural surroundings with its dazzling white beaches and clear blue skies. The houses here have a Nantucket style, a look that has inspired so many of our beachhouses. It is timeless and blends in perfectly with the environment here.” As architects and design engineers, they were successful in striking a perfect blend of high design and the most suitable materials available: The entire structure of the house is made from wood, including the interior cladding, windows and doors. The outer façade, on the other hand, is made from fibre cement – a mix of cellulose fibre and cement. “Over the course of the years we’ve come to realise,” says Silberbauer, “that this combination is absolutely ideal for our beachfront properties and almost entirely maintenance-free.” The roof is made from pure aluminium, also guaranteeing longevity in this environment. After more than ten years stood in such an open position by the ocean, the “White House” shows no visible signs of exposure to the elements.
“The inspiration for the ‘White House’ originates in the natural beauty of Yzerfontein with its miles of pristine white beaches.” Pieter Silberbauer
The client who commissioned the “White House Beach Villa” had requested a holiday home that blended in as harmoniously as possible with the natural environs of Pearl Bay. In addition to a main middle level with a kitchen, dining room and living room, and a rooftop level with a large bedroom, they also wanted to have a basement. This posed a challenge with the regulations in place limiting the height of buildings in this area. Working on a plot though with an incline along the beachfront elevation, Bobby Welman came up with a design for a basement level that opens out in one direction, towards the beach. The space created as a result is somewhere between a garden and an outdoor sand terrace. It is a wonderful place to sit outside, protected by the wind and weather, in front of the lowermost floor with its wine cellar and additional bedroom and bathroom. A wooden pathway winds its way from here directly to the beach itself. The boundaries here in this Pearl Bay villa between the interiors and the outdoors appear to disappear, and it is easy to feel more like being aboard a boat rather than on land. The fully glazed façade of the first floor can be completely retracted – transforming the wooden terrace that stretches along the length of the property into a large extension of the living and dining space with the kitchen. Wrap-around balconies have been deliberately designed without cladding between the deck and the handrail. Instead, almost invisible cords do the job, the likes of which are often found on sailing boats. This way nothing detracts from the spectacular views. The same approach has been taken with the top-level balcony. The double bed up on this floor assumes a central position close to the window, so that the sea is in full view while lying down. And the window parapet has even been lowered to ensure that Table Mountain is visible out in the distance, across the shimmering blue ocean, while relaxing in the freestanding bathtub.
“The sea has been instrumental to the style of the house.” Pieter Silberbauer
Its perpetual winds have made Yzerfontein a mecca for surfers on the west coast of South Africa. The coast here lies in the path of the Benguela Current – a cold stream in the southern Atlantic – meaning temperatures in winter fall well below ten degrees Celsius, although they rarely reach freezing point. Silberbauer was intent on making sure that residents of the “White House” feel just as at home here during the winter as they do in summer. “We have always encouraged our clients to spend that little bit more for the best insulation solutions available,” he reveals. In addition to the underfloor heating, a fireplace makes the world of difference in the cosiness stakes. It means the “White House Beach Villa” can be used and enjoyed throughout the whole year. During those times when the owners aren’t in Pearl Bay, they rent the house out to guests or for photo shoots. The white interiors, from the floors laid in Tasmanian oak right through to the rafter beams, have proven an ideal backdrop for photographers, providing a greater level of flexibility. The light too is reflected and refracted to glorious effect thanks to the monochrome colour concept. Come the evening, the sunsets from the decks and through the large windows in the house immerse the surrounding scenery in a hue of warm orange. “Everything about this project centred around teamwork,” says Pieter Silberbauer. “Right through to the choice of the finishes, fixtures and furnishings, which are primarily made from wood and rattan. From the outset the owners encouraged us to let our imaginations run free. Of course, we always knew we had a budget to keep to. But working so closely with our clients, we were able to go one step further and to end up ultimately exceeding their expectations.”
Contakt: Engel & Völkers Bloubergstrand (SA) Blue Mountain Realtors (PTY) LTD T/A – Lizenzpartner der Engel & Völkers Southern Africa (PTY) LTD
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