C L I F F   H O U S E

Residence - 40 Glen Crescent, Higgovale, Cape Town



Situated on a hairpin bend, the site is a narrow, steeply sloping sliver of land, averaging approximately twelve metres between the upper and lower roads, which run the length of the site. The heavily wooded site falls at 45º across this short distance.


The brief called for the existing stone pines and poplar trees to be preserved where possible, the views of the city, harbour beyond and Table Mountain behind to be maximised, and for the excavation to be minimised.


Placed behind a screen of existing trees, the building lies parallel to the natural contours. The narrow, rectangular crate-like structure, comprising of repetitive modular bays, rests on a recessed plinth. Rooms are located within the regular grid of the building with circulation confined to the western side in a cliff-like slot adjacent to the crate, penetrating through all three levels. The slot contains a lightweight, suspended stair and allows for ventilation and light penetration to the deepest portions of the building.


The building is interrupted by a slice of the landscape as it penetrates perpendicularly to the building at the point of entry. To the south is a self-contained apartment below the garages and to the north the main house.


The crate form is continuous through the main house, with the “empty” structural grid extending to the northern extremities to create open terraces with deep overhangs for shading. Vertical linkages by means of double volumes (both internally and externally) are achieved between the living spaces of the upper floors.


The east façade, which opens onto a lightweight steel and timber walkway, is a pure concrete frame structural grid with infill glazed panels, creating a sense of openness. These may be manipulated by timber folding-sliding shutters to control the degree of privacy, sun penetration and ventilation. The lightweight timber walkway at all levels extends and stretches the internal floor surface to the exterior.


Above the crate “floats” the roof, separated from the box below by a ribbon of glazing. The flat roof tilts up along its southern and western edge to reveal glimpses of Table Mountain.


The exterior finish comprises mainly tinted plaster with black slate, panels of bagged brickwork (expressing the concrete frame) and sandblasted Botticino tile details. Internally, the slate and Botticino give way to warmer maple and sisal flooring, with broken- white walls throughout. All the custom-made joinery items are of maple, with details in stainless steel and glass.





Quantity Surveyor
Bernard James & Partners


Structural Engineer

Henry Fagan


Slingsby & De Jager 






"Cliff House", Cape Town


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macio@vdmma.com | 083 409 9297

lloyd@vdmma.com | 083 290 7877

rikus@vdmma.com | 083 952 8043

johan@vdmma.com | 083 291 1012

ina@vdmma.com | 082 858 7882


161 LONGMARKET STREET  |  CAPE TOWN   |  +27 21 423 5829


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