With the advent of the missionaries and the imperial masters, South Africa began to witness massive development in infrastructure. Notable among these infrastructural developments are houses that were used for both residential and business purposes. Today, some of the best houses in South Africa are top-notch, belonging to the architectural portfolio of some of the best architectural companies in the world.
The likes of Bantry Bay-based OVD 919 was designed by SAOTA firm – a top-of-the-range architectural company that has several other scenic edifices under its belt. What of the Somerset West-based Galilai Rotating House that was designed by Architect Raymond Alexander; this turned out to be an architectural masterpiece with the capacity to rotate up to 348 degrees in a bid to escape both sun and wind. We cannot forget to mention Kloof Road Steel Elegance house in Bedfordview, Johannesburg where the veterans, Nico van der Meulen Architects made good use of the available vertical and horizontal space in delivering a sleek and radiant design that appears to have preceded its time!
Beautiful Houses in South Africa
South Africa can boast of a plethora of beautiful houses. Below are a few of them;
1. Ultimate Open-plan Living; OVD 919 House
- Location: Bantry Bay, Cape Town, South Africa
- Builder (Architectural firm): SAOTA firm
- Owner: N/A
- Best Features: The generous use of glass
Measuring 10,538 sqft, the OVD 919 villa in Bantry Bay, Cape Town earns the number one spot on our list of the best houses in South Africa. The views from the house are just spectacular. To the south, visitors to this piece of beauty are treated to an eyeful of the Camps Bay plus the Twelve Apostles while Robben Island captures the attention of anybody who cares to take a peek to the north of it. The house itself sits on the mountain ridge right below Lions Head. SAOTA takes the credit for the architectural design of the house, but the kudos for the interiors go to Debra Parkington – an interior design firm that worked with SAOTA to achieve these scenic views.
Limited to a double-floor building above the ridge, the OVD 919 villa’s living areas were based on an open plan. There are spacious living areas, the beautiful terrace sporting a glittering pool, the bedrooms occupy the top floor in a bid to secure maximum privacy for the residents, and there is a beautiful garden below. The transition from the residence’s interior to its exterior is an open one. The views of the surrounding landscape and ocean are quite breathtaking. Modern interior design characterizes the family room with a lot of open spaces. From the master’s bedroom, one can be treated to an amazing view of the landscape. Fully overgrown walls surround the back where the entrance is located. In fact, you cannot talk about the beautiful houses in South Africa without paying homage to this piece of paradise. Many have attested that the OVD 919 villa is a sight to behold and anybody that has seen it will agree with them.
2. Galilai Rotating House: Somerset West
- Location: Spanish Farm suburb of Somerset West
- Builder (Architectural firm): Architect Raymond Alexander
- Owner: Harard Scheppig
- Best Features: The swiveling feature of the house at 348 degrees
Designed by the veteran himself, architect Raymond Alexander, Galilai Rotating House is one architectural masterpiece with the capacity to rotate up to 348 degrees in a bid to escape both sun and wind. All you are required to do is push a single button and you get the ball rolling. This 19,000 square foot dome abode can be found in the Spanish Farm suburb of Somerset West. German businessman Harard Scheppig is the owner of Galilai – he built the house in collaboration with his wife and reports have it that they built it out of curiosity; it goes without mention that their curiosity was more than satisfied.
Below are bullet points of amazing details of the Somerset West-based Galilai Rotating House.
- The house was finished in 2001 after two years of planning and another two years of building
- It is a spectacular edifice with the capacity to rotate both clockwise and counterclockwise
- Powering the abode is a laser-controlled German Bauer gear motor of 3.8 KW
- While you can have access to the lower level at Galilai house via the entry gate, one would need to go through the retractable bridge to get to the upper level.
- The house has concrete shells covered by special plasters that prevent them from cracking
At Galilai, the top floor weighs around 850 metric tons with a 49-foot diameter.
The interior is designed into five bedrooms, including a spacious living room sporting a spectacular dome totally illuminated with constellations. These constellations of the northern and southern hemispheres are created with premium glass fiber cables.
The wide sliding glass doors at Galilai open to incredible bay and mountain views.
There are no straight walls at Galilai; the design is done in such a way that it cuts down on the use of electricity by bringing in loads of natural light.
3. Kloof Road: Steel Elegance
- Location: Bedfordview, Johannesburg
- Builder (Architectural firm): Nico van der Meulen Architects
- Owner: N/A
- Best Features: All the rooms designed to open to the outdoors
Chick, grand, and eclectic, the architectural wonder that is Kloof Road is a sight for sore eyes. Nico van der Meulen Architects did a good job of making the most of both vertical and horizontal space. With every detail meticulously planned, the expert architect delivered a sleek and radiant design that appears to have preceded its time. This assemblage of distinctively molded black steel utilized a lot of glass to strike a balance in its space and lighting.
In addition to its great entertainment space, Kloof Road boasts of four en suite bedrooms – there is the main bedroom suite upstairs, a guest bedroom downstairs, and a couple of children’s bedrooms. The main bedroom is designed in such a way that it incorporates a huge open balcony offering the residents an expansive view of the garden below. There is an open-plan bathroom that seamlessly flows around the corner down to the expansive dressing room. For the main suit, it is equipped with a lounge area sporting a TV set and fireplace, including a mini kitchenette bar. The upper floor houses a Pajama-lounge playroom.
Other attractions in this spectacular house include the following;
- A koi pond
- A modern swimming pool
- A fire pit
- A garage with the capacity of 4 automobiles
- A 12m x 8m pavilion
4. House Jones: The Meeting of Environmental and Aesthetic Needs
- Location: South Africa
- Builder (Architectural firm): ERA Architects
- Owner: N/A
- Best Features: Its unique ability to change in both appearance and in the face of environmental reactions
ERA Architects designed House Jones with environmental inspirations. While designing the house, considerations were given to
- Sun protection
- Solar radiation
- Energy and water consumption
- Landscaping and sustainable systems
All these are not just considered but carefully integrated into the architectural aesthetics of the building. The result is a comfortable, sustainable, efficient, and unique home. Though climate responsive design, water conservation, and comfort took the lead in the overall design of the building, it still leveraged other methodologies in creating an aesthetic still directed by the conventional architectural ideas of composition, hierarchy, symmetry, and progression. Nonetheless, it challenges usual ideas of domestic architecture, offering a new ‘‘green aesthetic’’.
The design’s primary concept is the mediation between the interior and exterior spaces. With that said, an ensuing envelope of planted steel structures produces individual “green bubbles” of tempered microclimates; this is meant for each of the living spaces to open onto. These work with the different weather conditions throughout the year – during the winter; it provides the residents with sunny protected spots that collect warmth and during the hot summer, the residents get to enjoy cooler intermediary spaces. The result of these is mediating spaces that would naturally pre-condition the air entering the house and circulating into the home.
The uniqueness in this building is its ability to change in both appearances and environmental reactions as the surrounding landscape is transformed by the seasons. This design strategy causes a resultant aesthetic that is ever-changing and unusual.
This plant-covered abode is sheathed in a metallic frame that provides its inhabitants with sufficient comfort. All the nooks and crannies of the house come equipped with a self-contained micro-climate enhancing free flow between the interior and exterior spaces. The plants that surround this mega-structure regulate temperature as well as improve the quality of air circulation in the house.
5. The Westcliff Pavilion
- Location: Westcliff Ridge Johannesburg
- Builder (Architectural firm): Georg van Gass and Clare Eisenstein
- Owner: N/A
- Best Features: Its Floating Stone Wall
The Westcliff Pavilion was named after the Joburg Westcliff suburb. An apt instance of contemporary steel architecture, the pavilion is constructed with three major materials; glass, steel, and stone. Belonging to the design portfolio of GASS Architecture Studio, the residence appears to be hovering above ground level. There is a floating stone wall on one side and another portion of the house that is solely constructed with glass. By using steel for the construction work, GASS left many expanses of land intact with just the footings in contact.
Suspending the massive stone wall is an indication that a wall can still be very solid without relying on the ground. As the rooms open up, the corners vanish to permit the separation of outdoor/indoor to dissipate. It is not only the view side that opens up completely, the other side equally does the same, giving an expansive feel to the living area. There is a shared, public space at the center with two bedrooms occupying the two ends.
Skillfully laid stone walls and sprung wooden floors are the major characteristics of this beautiful abode. Some locally available stones went into the makings of the internal and external walls and the fact they match with the pavilion’s surroundings makes it more appealing. The residence has that appearance of being weightless thanks to the Sunk steel rods.
Modern Houses in South Africa
Yes, there is no arguing the fact that the building stock in the major cities in South Africa is lively. The best houses in South Africa encompass some modern residential houses and there are also a lot of contemporary houses that are used for business purposes. Each house is a unique architectural exploration as well as formal expression. All the houses value simple geometry, expansive views, and outdoor spaces. These are some of the top modern houses in SA.
6. Clifton House in Clifton
- Location: Clifton, Cape Town, South Africa
- Builder (Architectural Firm): Malan Vorster Architecture Interior Design
- Owner: N/A
- Best Features: The magnificent views of the ocean from every angle
Covering a massive land area of 789 sqm, Clifton House in Clifton, Cape Town, South Africa is counted among the best houses in South Africa. The building, which is the handiwork of Malan Vorster Architecture Interior Design, boasts a splendid view of the ocean. The best feature of this imposing mansion is the fact that the magnificent view of the ocean can be captured from any spot on the property. This glorious piece of heaven is sure to leave visitors feeling like they are actually on top of the world.
The living spaces of Clifton House are elevated with Gabion walls which also did a good job of de-emphasizing a large garage, including screen utilities. The major residence in the houses is divided into a total of three off-shutter concrete building blocks. Seamless indoor/outdoor living spaces spread out onto a comfy protected and landscaped courtyard. This scenic spot houses some modern amenities such as a rim-flow pool, a gym, a cinema room, and a garden that has a close resemblance to a Zen. Also to be found in this masterpiece are automated curtains and blinds that give one the feeling of being in wonderland. In fact, when the talk is about modern houses in SA, Clifton House should be a chart-topper.
The house facilities at this scenic house include;
- Gas braai
- Swimming pool
- Sun loungers and umbrellas
- Uncapped Wi-Fi
- Separate laundry
7. Nettleton 198 by SAOTA
- Location: Cape Town, South Africa
- Builder (Architectural Firm): SAOTA
- Owner: British Couple Living in Cape
- Best Features: The circular entrance area completely clad in walnut timber
On our list of the best houses in South Africa, Nettleton 198 appears to be the one with the most befitting site. Sitting very high above Clifton, it links a hillside patch of the garden on the east via the spacious living space to the extensive views of the beautiful Atlantic Ocean towards the west. It is a six-bedroom house with seven levels, making the most of its scenic site, the mountains, and the views. The architects drew inspiration from the nearby mountains, using dark colors in the façade.
Residents of Nettleton 198 are exposed to the views of the Lions Head and the sea, and some of the major informants that contributed to the overall design of this piece of beauty are the impact of the blazing sun. Because the sun was found to be a harsh and defining influence on the site, it informed the use of materials like shutters, screens, and louvers, giving a distinctive gravitas to the lower level. It has the feel of an open pavilion thanks to the living room that is designed to open up onto the east and west completely.
Powder-coated aluminum clad the building’s exterior, resulting in a precise and robust surface finish. The architect achieved a much warmer look through the use of walnut timber. For accents, the company integrated some Black marble & glass. The highlights in the house include;
- A walnut-clad kitchen box
- A sculptural cantilevered carbon fiber bar
- A granite-clad rim-flow pool
- Some fascinating lighting installation
- An elegant floating timber staircase
8. Newlands House by Antonio Zaninovic Architects
- Location: Cape Town, South Africa
- Builder: Antonio Zaninovic Architects
- Owner: N/A
- Best Features: The blend of different natural elements with stunning architecture
Belonging to the architectural portfolio of Antonio Zaninovic Architects, Newlands House is one edifice that can fit into a dream scenario. With a view of the oceans, mountains, and vegetation, one cannot help but agree that it is a blend of different natural elements with stunning architecture. The design of the house was done in such a way that it embraced the oceanfront and rugged mountain with what can only be tagged a modern clean aesthetic. The wall arrangement, in addition to the careful partition, allows its inhabitants to enjoy uninterrupted sights and sounds of Cape Town’s city center.
The inside comes complete with a contemporary look delightfully complimented by the untouched raw nature, framed via the floor-to-ceiling windows looking like they are asking to be shown off. The major impact in the compound is arguably the swimming pool with those thick and mature trees creating a perfect border around the sparkling water. In fact, Antonio Zaninovic Architects wrote its name in gold with the architectural design of this luxury abode.
9. Firth 114802 by Three14 Architects
- Location: Rondebosch Cape Town, South Africa
- Builder: Three14 Architects
- Owner: N/A
- Best Features: The minimal white box housing the bedroom accommodation
Sitting on an elongated site with views towards The Back Table and Devil’s Peak, Firth 114802 merits a spot on the list of the beautiful sights of South Africa. There is this minimal white box housing the bedroom accommodation on its first floor and hovering over the house’s living spaces located on the ground floor. Articulated with strategic openings, this box maximizes exposure and views to light, with a centralized courtyard carved out in an adjacent position to the dining room and kitchen to create a focal point. The beautiful mass of the suspended box comes broken down on the street frontage sporting a spectacular screen wall and creating an open-air terrace for the house’s guest wing.
The screen is incorporated to offer the inhabitants privacy from the outside and at the same time permits the permeation of the lights and views from out there. The material used in the construction is a standard pre-cast concrete breeze block which reminds one of a bygone era.
While the mountain and garden views lie to the west, the open plan living spaces occupying the ground floor of the edifice spill out onto its terrace and courtyard to the North. The courtyard has trees planted within as a central element targeted at providing a shaded garden area that functions to fill the adjoining spaces with dappled light. The trees screen the house from the direct north light with its natural canopy providing the people on the first floor with privacy.
The stairs are made of timber and steel, and function to connect the two floors of the house and terminate in a huge open-plan utility space on the building’s first floor; this separates the master suite from the guest wing. It also maintains links to the courtyard, including the tree below.
10. Head Road Glamour by Jenny Mills Architects
- Location: Cape Town, South Africa
- Builder: Jenny Mills Architects
- Owner: N/A
- Best Features: The shape of the house
The setting of this piece of paradise is the Fresnaye slopes of Lion’s Head. Approaching this scenic abode through Ocean View Drive, one can palpably feel its strong physical presence. Dominated by strong rock formations and powerful organic shapes, the shape of the house is quite unique, inspired by the curve of the coastline and the feeling of the untouched mountain shapes. The abode was already existing before it was reworked to harmonize and synthesize its shape. The entire entrance of the house was remodeled because of the need to access it from the road and enjoy special views; the original house had no such advantages.
With the re-modeling, both the penthouse and the rest of the abode can now open directly to the mountains with its wonderful views. Severe structural constraints of the original top-level had to be demolished and with professional planning and execution, the existing shapes of this building were re-worked. The result is something that can be best referred to as a sculptural new façade sitting in harmony and in synchronization with the natural environment.
The living area of the house is a seamless structure sporting wide glass sliding doors with limited slender support, totally integrating it with the terrific views. Once you open the doors, the boundaries between exterior and interior disappear.
The Biggest House in South Africa
Located on the Vaal River is an obscenely opulent 6,240 square meter mansion which has pride of place as the biggest abode ever built in the Republic of South Africa. The house, which is the property of a former Absa executive, Kennedy Bungane, can boast of luxurious amenities such as
- Golf Course
- An Indoor Swimming Pool
- Six En Suite Bedrooms
- Five living rooms
- A Fitness Gym
- Multiple Conference Rooms, etc
NB: This piece of wonder is currently on the market looking for a new owner.