Urbain McGee Architecture & Design, Cape Town


Works:New-Build Residence
Location:Betty's Bay, Western Cape
Status:In Progress
New-Build Residence
Betty's Bay, Western Cape
In Progress

Located on the outskirts of Betty’s Bay, adjacent to the Sea Farm Nature Reserve, the site rises gently to meet natural vegetation. The client requested that the weekend getaway be located on this rise and that the building section should reflect this gradient all the while being orientated to the framed views from the site. 

They also called for an honest, modest construction that reflected a contemporary nature. The design was to represent this getaway time and allow for an intimate connection to the site and reserve, as well as have the option to share with a larger group of people. The construction was to emerge from local knowledge and resources and be uncomplicated in assembly.


This was achieved by imagining the house as two separate dwellings, the primary forms that stagger over their lengths and are connected by a half-stair with a single-large glazed window between the two forms. The orientations of the two forms were established by the site boundaries that coincidentally aligned the building’s facades to the prominent views in their locations. The splayed arrangement allowed the buildings to form wind-protected courtyards in response to the two seasonal winds. 

The architecture represents two barns of varying heights with enlarged and expressed fireplaces and chimneys. The barns are constructed from masonry and in-situ concrete. The roof is lightweight with a solid timber ridge beam construction and vertical post-support over the length. The larger of the two volumes, the living area, includes a mezzanine and large sky-gazing window. Openings within this form are also larger with expressed concrete beams. The bedroom form is simpler.  

The shell/envelope of the entire construction is however continuous, creating a dynamic, homogeneous, facade appearance that is untraditional of the building forms.



Renderings: Urbain McGee