H I L L H O U S E
Residence - Higgovale, Cape Town
Hill House is situated in Higgovale, at the foot of Table Mountain, with views across the city bowl to the sea beyond. A steeply sloping, multi-angular plot falls from the road to a stream along the lower boundary.
The owner’s brief called for a maximising of views and the creation of an indoor-outdoor spatial relationship. Furthermore, the owner showed a preference for a ‘wall-building’, with punctured openings to enhance a feeling of solidity, permanence and calm. This was to be emphasised by an understated palette of natural materials, muted tones and a continuity of materials and finishes.
The footprint comprises several rectilinear platforms that are staggered at varying levels down the hill, lying parallel to the natural contours and ordered around a tartan grid. This configuration allows for the primary spaces to accommodate the various parts and functions of the house. The narrower slots in-between serve to separate these functions, while simultaneously housing the stairways and level changes.
The ‘wallness’ of the primary spaces extends only to eaves level, to allow the roofs to be elevated, thus introducing a continuous ribbon-window of glazing and ventilation. A lightweight steel frame supports copper-clad vaulted roofs, which in turn enhance the admission of natural light and introduce additional skyward views and glimpses of Table Mountain and the treed surrounds.
The exterior of the masonry structure is plastered in a semi-smooth pigmented plaster. Sandstone and textured porcelain tiling to exterior surfaces (including cills and tiled roof slabs) blend with the tones of the plastered walls to maintain the continuity of the colour palette. Internally the same principle applies – broken-white walls, smooth and textured porcelain tiling, timber flooring and sisal matting are used. The custom-designed joinery (including the kitchen and all fittings) is also consistent throughout, detailed in beech wood to match the flooring.
Specific elements within this neutral backdrop became opportunities for selective design elaboration. Items such as bathroom fittings and details, the fireplace, the staircases, sundry steelwork and special joinery allow the introduction of materials such as mosaic, brushed aluminium, mirrors and frosted glass.