The late architect Zaha Hadid once famously asked, ‘There are 360 degrees, so why stick to one?’. It’s a question that could well have been in the mind of Christo Botha, partner of MB Architects, when creating this breathtaking home in Cape Town, with its sprawling staircase and angular concrete entrance that appears to defy gravity.
Indeed, trailblazing architects Zaha Hadid and Santiago Calatrava were both big influences on the design of this sculptural home. The monolithic form manages to marry not just the disparate aesthetic predilections of its owners, Mica and Marcel Angel – a psychologist and racing car driver – but also the splendour of its setting, overlooking Sandy Bay, Cape Town’s only nudist beach.
Marcel has a love of contemporary, modern architecture, but the challenge lay in incorporating Mica’s preference for a more eclectic, lived-in feel that could accommodate the five children the couple share between them – ranging in age from 11 to 28 – and their three pugs, Sishi, Valentino and Paris.
‘My starting point was to mould the house into the rocky coastline so as to create a strong, stable construction, much like an amphitheatre, that could open up to the ocean, with sliding glass doors that disappear into the walls on warm, sunny days,’ explains Christo.
‘What was important was the experience of progressing through the property, from the entrance, with its dancing spiral staircase, to the excitement of seeing the sea and rock pools ahead of you and the sky above. It was all designed as a sequence of events that culminates in the drama of this incredible natural setting.’
Laid out over three levels and with just four bedrooms, the 1,000-square-metre house is surprisingly intimate given its scale. The subterranean level is home to Marcel’s study, as well as the ample parking, laundry and storage areas, while the extensive living, dining, kitchen and entertainment rooms are located on the ground floor, as is a guest suite that leads out to the pool and terrace.
Upstairs, the main bedroom sits in the centre of the property and is flanked on either side by a further two bedrooms and Mica’s study, as well as a snug and playroom.
‘The building was very much a collaboration between myself and the structural engineer who brought my design to life,’ says Christo. He and owners Mica and Marcel parted company two years before the project was completed due to a contractual dispute, but in spite of having to navigate the vagaries of construction and complete the project on their own, the couple’s love and appreciation for this house has not been dimmed at all.
For Mica, it’s been the culmination of a long-held dream that started when Marcel surprised her with the news that they’d bagged the last beachfront plot in Llandudno, this beautiful suburb of Cape Town, on their anniversary.
‘We’d dreamt of living here for years and so the privilege of being able to create a home that reflects both our personalities while offering a place for us to connect with our children is priceless,’ says Mica.
‘Our Sunday family lunches where all five children, some with partners, converge are a highlight. The table seems to have to increase in size every year, but we wouldn’t have it any other way.’ mbarchitects.co.za