Higgovale. Picture a wealthy and leafy suburb in Cape Town, overlooking the Atlantic Ocean and not far from South Africa’s parliamentary seat. The Invermark House is a modernist architectural gem built by South African architect Gilbert Colyn. In 1970 the building received historic status, a prestigious acknowledgement and commendation from the Cape Institute for Architecture for its beauty and design.
It was the challenge for architect Stefan Antoni to delicately and sensitively modernize the home, while maintaining its modernist credentials.
“Our brand is known for creating dynamic and dramatic spaces and memorable experiences as people seek out what has been dubbed ‘the Cape Town look’. This is sophistication with soul, a modern aesthetic playing with light and space, but also with charm and intimacy.”
— Stefan Antoni, quote from Cape Town magazine Urbis, 2014
The family home is a zen box shape floating in a garden of greenery and blissful retreat. The home’s mid-century modern looks offer flow between indoors and outdoors. A key focus on natural materials, blurring boundaries between nature and structure, inspired by two iconic homes; Phillip Johnson’s 1949 Glass House and Mies van der Rohe’s 1951 Farnsworth House.
Architect and Cape Town local Stefan Antoni purchased the house in 2013 for himself and family. The building at that time was in desperate need of attention, on the verge of being demolished (owing to the crass alterations it had received since its original design). As an architect himself, Antoni reveled in the chance to bring it up to scratch. Modernizing the kitchen and living facilities brought the home up to contemporary standards, while restructuring the garden and framework maintained the modernist zen flow of the home.
At the root of the design, we see a box floating in the beauty of greenery and its natural surroundings.
One of Antoni’s proudest achievements was relocating the swimming pool away from the shady mountain-side of the property. Moving it from one side of the house to another allowed for much-desired privacy from street level. Its new location takes the sun, enjoying the sea views instead of leaving it on the shady mountain side of the property.
Walls of glass provide a thorough interaction between indoors and outdoors. Any superfluous internal walls that had been added in the years between 1970 and 2013 were removed. This brought the design closer to Colyn’s initial plans; inspired by early-to-mid 20th century architectural gems like Philip Johnson’s 1949 Glass House and Mies van der Rohe’s 1929 Barcelona Pavilion.
The family courtyard where the swimming pool was previously located is now free to be planted as a lawn. A row of Elderflower trees line the property. A beautiful split in scene-scape is offered between the views from either side. Bird soar and animals dance between jungle terrain and mountain rock on one; on the other a harbor outlook and sun-lit terrace engage you.
Matching the architectural splendor, the interior design of the home matches the mid-century modern aesthetic. Decked around the two-sided fireplace is a series of furniture featuring low slung shapes. Handmade coffee tables, sofas and living room furniture from South African company OKHA were designed for the space.
“It’s worth noting that Gilbert Colyn himself was impressed with the house after its completion.”
Artwork is also an important element to Stefan Antoni in his home, featuring sculptures and hanging art both inside and out of the property.
It’s worth noting that Gilbert Colyn himself was impressed with the house after its completion.
Antoni is enthusiastic about his new home, as living there every day feels like being on holiday.
One of the biggest challenges to the project was the ceilings. Getting the right timber stain to replace the damaged areas and match the overall look of the house was quite time consuming. But the work paid off; now the ceiling beams and sliding door panels are fixed up and feel at one with the overall home.
With the intention to restore the home and bring forth a new lease of its life, we can say objectives complete! This gorgeous home is a welcoming zen retreat in the Cape Town outskirts, and follows in design footsteps with those inspirational Modernist gems it looks toward.
Are you looking for more examples of modernist architecture? Check out this Eichler home refit for the 21st century. With so many homes admiring the mid-century modern designs it’s no wonder that low-slung furniture is increasingly welcome in our modern decor.
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