June 17, 2022

Adventures in Architecture: Discover a Luxury Modernist Masterpiece at the Edge of the World

A private villa overlooking Cape Town’s pristine beaches – and designed by Africa’s most sought after architectural studio – is redefining luxury for the modern traveller.

Adventures in Architecture: Discover a Luxury Modernist Masterpiece at the Edge of the World

In a city with no shortage of wow-factor sights – from the grandeur of Table Mountain, flanked by Lions Head and Devil’s Peak, that wraps itself around the city, to stretches of white beach and cool, clear Atlantic waters – this quietly impactful cliffside villa leaves a lasting impression. 

For the architectural adventurer looking for grand design, De Wet Art Villa is a unicorn: a private residence to rent with serious credentials. Designed by the continent’s leading architectural firm, SAOTA, this striking terrace home emerges from the steep, rocky slope in sculptural angles, a modernist marvel that both exaggerates and counterbalances the landscape within which it is placed. Ideally situated within close range of the city’s most famous natural landmarks and attractions, it’s the ultimate high-luxe sanctuary, geared towards slow living and easy entertaining after lazy days of sun and surf or scenic mountain hikes.

With award-winning residences from Cape Town to Lagos, Los Angeles to Sydney, SAOTA needs little introduction. The homes designed in its busy studio – this Bantry Bay villa being a stunning example – draw inspiration from nature, guided by the topography of the land, the nuances of the site and the shifting planes of light. The brilliance is in the simplicity, the decisively clean lines that intersect the rugged terrain and the architectural dexterity of these impossibly large forms cantilevered, almost weightlessly, over the cliff edge, capturing the achingly beautiful views – mountain, forest and ocean – with restrained confidence. The result: a private villa that is undeniably international in its style yet deeply African in its soul.

Following the tenets of SAOTA’s design philosophy: light, space, life (it’s no coincidence these were chosen for the name of the firm’s first monograph, published late last year, as well as a recent solo exhibition in Miami) – the home comprises several spacious, living volumes that reveal themselves as you move through the various spaces. Carefully considered (and always backdropped by postcard-ready views), the layout is configured so that guest bedrooms occupy the lower level while the communal spaces – accessed via a double-volume glass stairwell and featuring a spacious living room that, on one side, opens up entirely onto an enclosed terrace with two lounge areas and a pool, and the on the other, houses the bar nook – are on the middle floor. The top storey is where you’ll find the master suite, which can be closed off to create a cocooning hotel suite-style penthouse away from the action. 

An Entertainer’s Paradise

When it came to fitting the perfect interiors to enhance the architecture, the team at design studio ARRCC, led by director Mark Rielly, were called in, effectively translating SAOTA’s vision into every element of the home’s interiors. ‘To invoke a sense of dynamic living within the home, gem-like materials and custom furniture were used throughout in order to bring together the client’s brief for ultimate comfort within high functioning entertainment zones,’ says Mark. ‘To that end, a profusion of reflective surfaces are juxtaposed with warm wood and splashes of bright colour to realise the full effect of this entertainer’s paradise.’

Entertainment lounge at De Wet Art Villa

And paradise is exactly what it is. Warmed by walnut panelling throughout, the living area is a light-filled jewellery box glittering with gem tones and metallic accents, all grounded by earthy marble and timber. Seating is provided by a custom angled sofa and two purple OKHA Gloob chairs, which do double time adding comfort and pops of colour, that sit around a custom cluster coffee table, while nearby Tom Dixon Melt lamps continue the metallic theme. ‘The clients value the sense of creating spaces that are centred around family, a celebration of life and enjoyment of the simple pleasures,’ says Mark. ‘They wanted an authentic design that also tells a story, one where every element was bespoke and handcrafted.’

Kitchen and dining area at De Wet Art Villa

The kitchen introduces a pared-back counterbalance to the living room’s opulence, with slick black marble inserted into a patinated brass countertop with granite working surfaces while integrated appliances disappear behind the smooth timber joinery. The adjoining dining room features a sculptural light composed of concentric brass rings that casts a soft halo over meals shared at the spacious custom walnut table with Artifort chairs. Over at the custom bar, which is fronted by Pietra Paesina Laminam slabs, the riot of colour returns thanks to vibrant Tom Dixon bar stools and Classicon side tables.   

For Mark and the ARRCC team, tactile and natural materials – rough woods, burnished metals and smooth stone – are the building blocks of an elevated space, especially one such as this, with a serious bent towards sophisticated entertaining. ‘At ARRCC we enjoy shaping elements that are raw and transforming them into objects of luxury, simple organic materials like granite blocks or live-edge timber planks can be evolved with sophisticated detailing incorporating bronze trims or edging that add a layer of luxury’, he says.

De Wet Art Villa master suite

Upstairs, in the master suite, the home’s love affair with warm tones and natural textures continues in a kaleidoscope of walnut, mustard, smoked glass and linen while artworks by Andrzej Urbanski and Shany van den Berg elevate the space. Completing the hotel suite appeal, a small lounge looks out onto the ocean and features pieces by OKHA and Tonic. ‘It’s a dynamic home,’ says Mark. ‘One where unexpected materials combine to create a space that is as energetic as its owner.’

Pioneering Afro-modern Luxury

‘For me, luxury is about the sensory experience, where the interiors create a backdrop for the delights of everyday living,’ says Mark. ‘With our fast paced lifestyles, having moments of quiet and calm is the real luxury – and having tailored spaces that facilitate these moments is heaven. The senses and physical experience of the space, together with materials, light and simplicity are the core to transcending luxury.’ 

Available through In Residence by Pieter Brundyn, De Wet Art Villa is many things: a thrilling home for the lover of architecture, a glimmering escape into modern luxury on the rugged African coastline and an oasis for carefree entertaining with friends and family.

Make a reservation