[imagesource: SAOTA / Adam Letch]
The property you see up top on Ocean View Drive, Cape Town, captures the epitome and ethos of one of South Africa’s leading architecture firms.
It’s the neat capturing of space that can “make you feel like you possess a whole mountain, a stretch of ocean, or an entire city”, noted CNN in their article about SAOTA.
The above house certainly makes the most of its stunning view of the Twelve Apostles mountain range, and so SAOTA’s design has done its job once again.
The South African founder of SAOTA, Stefan Antoni, even stopped the construction of their Mother City offices midway to redesign so that Table Mountain would remain in view.
It is this sort of thinking and business savvy that has landed SAOTA in some cool places.
Besides building grand homes across South Africa, the US, Russia, Indonesia, and Nigeria, the firm has even sold a home on the Netflix Los Angeles realtor series Selling Sunset.
The property, called ‘Hillside’, sold for a delicious $35,5 million in 2019.
With over 30 years in the business and a 300-people strong workforce, SAOTA’s portfolio boasts lavish sales including, to name just a few, its house-designed ‘Pine Tree’ in Miami that sold for $22,5 million in 2017.
Check out Antoni’s own SAOTA-designed home in Cape Town:
Here’s Dr Philippa Tumubweinee, an academic at the University of Cape Town School of Architecture, Planning and Geomatics, speaking about how SAOTA kickstarted the industry in our country:
“It’s structural gymnastics. It’s very long cantilevers, concrete and clean space — which is not necessarily a new aesthetic, but within a South African context, it was relatively new,” she explained.
Antoni, who formed the firm in the mid-1980s, explained that to make any lasting impact from our spot “at the bottom of Africa looking up”, you have to do things “exceptionally well”.
The view looking out from this SAOTA-designed home in Miami called ‘Dilido’ is exceptional, yes:
So is all this local black andesite stone used on this building in Indonesia:
Also, this Phoenix, Arizona gem, uses rammed earth walls “to create a connection to the site”:
Of course, launching from such an economically disparate country as South Africa, there are criticisms:
“But,” [Tumubweinee] said, “even though the criticism is valid — and I do agree with that critique — at some point, especially with architectural practice, there’s got to be a space in which people push the practice beyond.” It’s the “one percent,” she added, “who can afford innovation, who can afford for (architects) to experiment.”
For Antoni, the value is in the worth owners place on their SAOTA homes and not just the money they fork out:
“Clients say, ‘you’ve ruined our lives,'” Antoni said, smiling, “‘we go on holidays now and we don’t enjoy them that much anymore — we want to go back home.'”
“In a way, that sort of sums it up,” he added. “A house or home is not just a functional living space, it should have an emotive quality … it should be a place where you can fulfill all your dreams and all your aspirations.”
Many of us would sell a spleen to live like that.
Must be so nice.
If you’re in the business of seeing more, the firm has produced a book – Light, Space, Life – to showcase some of its most memorable designs.
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