House Sapieka

Name House Sapieka
Client Joy Sapieka
Location Hout Bay, Cape Town
Status Built, 2001 (Original) & 2012 (Extension)

This modest house is 150 square metres and comprises a single living, dining and kitchen area and two bedroom suites in which the studies double up as visitor’s accommodation with independent access to bathrooms.

The primary view is eastward to the harbour, Hout Bay and Chapman’s Peak, with secondary views to the north and west. The two-storey bedroom wing is situated on the south side of the site.

The roof drops as single plan from this high point down to the lowest part of the house on the north side. The house is wrapped around a courtyard on three sides. The courtyard opens to the north and west and offers dramatic views of the nature reserve behind the house.

Since the house is U-shaped, the roof is draped over the spaces below as a cranked mono-pitch plane. The plan is unconstrained by the roof geometry. It can assume a form independent of the conventional orthogonal geometry associated with this type of building.

A series of angled walls locate the house on the site so that it is parallel to the front, as well as to the south boundary. This strategy locks the house into a geometric relationship with the site, which in turn binds it to the site.

Compositionally, the house rises from a single-storey volume on the north to a two- storey bedroom wing on the south. This follows the rise to the site, upward to the south, and mimics the dramatic mountainscape of the nature reserve at the back of the site. The roof form also echoes the tugboat form of the ships in the harbour below.

A low, glazed bay window frames views to the harbour, bay and Chapman’s Peak beyond and is shaped as a horizontal glazed band to capture the views. This house is dedicated to the notion of romantic functionalism in honour of Ralph Erskine. It is a modest house, yet has a resolution and presence that belies its limited means.