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Beau Constance
Constantia Nek, Cape Town, Western Cape

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METROPOLIS: Architect


Date:2006
Type:Homestead
Style:Contemporary
Status:Extant

Award of Merit Citation

Beau Constance is a captivating union of architecture and nature. The building programme called for a main house, meditation pavilion and guest cottage. The location is a new wine farm on a site of spectacular natural beauty. The design response achieves architecture of exquisite subtlety with minimum intervention on the pristine site, characterized by a minimalist design vocabulary.

Whilst each of the buildings are a response to the respective briefs the commonality lies in their essential expression of enclosure. The primary building components of wall, floor slab and roof, are reduced to planar elements throughout, composed to create a sculptural interplay between mass and void. This lightness of touch is immediately evident when approaching the main house. The private accommodation it contains appears as a simple volume poised above a loose landscape of ground planes which define the principal living area.

At Beau Constance, space and scale have been masterfully manipulated. Its inhabitants are provided with a spatial experience which is richly layered, and perfectly in tune with its natural environment. The project is one of conceptual rigor and architectural clarity - from the planning through to the resolution of detail.

Award of Excellence Citation

The building programme called for a main house, meditation pavilion and guest cottage. The location is a new wine farm on a site of spectacular natural beauty. The design response achieves architecture of exquisite subtlety with minimum intervention on the pristine site, characterised by a minimalist design vocabulary.

Architect's Motivation

Situated at Constantia Nek, on the upper slopes of the Vlakkenberg, the 225-hectoare former livestock farm has been redeveloped by the present owners into a small-scale wine farm. The site has been cleared of alien vegetation and an extensive infrastructure program including new roads, a stormwater management system water and electrical reticulation, has been carreed out. The arabia parts of the uniquely beautiful and mountainous site have been planted with vineyards for the purpose of wine production and the balance is in the process of rehabilitation.

Beau Constance is located at the confluence of three major arterial roads linking the semi rural areas of Constantia and Hout Bay to the rest of the city. At the same time it enjoys a relatively unspoilt natural setting, with pristine mountain slopes forming a backdrop all around and cultivated farmlands below. Its elevated position just below the Forestry (CPPNE) Line, allows magnificent and sweeping views of the Peninsula, False Bay and the Hottentots Holland Mountains.

The steep slopes of the site fold around a kloof of sorts, with easterly and northerly orientation, and extend almost to the apex of the Vlakkenberg.

Due to its topography, it has very limited visibility from surrounding roads and properties and only becomes visible from the Constantia Valley, some kilometers away. It incorporates both fertile rolling vineyards and rugged and rocky mountainside.

From the outset it was clear that this very unique site required a very sensitive design approach integrally bound to its context. A design strategy was evolved, which sought minimum intervention and positive environmental impact at all levels. The resulting architecture was intended to grow from the site and be in total harmony with its surroundings.

The owners' building program for the farm involved residential and farming-related usage only. No other commercial functions occur on site The existing buildings, all of no historic value, were demolished and replaced by a main residence, an associated meditation pavilion, a guest cottage and a farm shed. The new buildings were sited by taking a complex mix of precedent, zoning regulations, views, topography and local climate into consideration. The existing farm road which runs along the contour to the main road was maintained and became the spine linking all the building works, much as it was before.

All truncated references not fully cited below are those of Joanna Walker's original text and cited in full in the 'Bibliography' entry of the Lexicon.

Writings about this entry

Joubert, 'Ora. Beau Constance: in Joubert, 'Ora (Ed). 2009. 10 years + 100 buildings: pp 324-327

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