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House Letschert
Higgovale, Cape Town, Western Cape

studioMAS: Architect

2011CIfA Award for Architecture
Street:3 Glen Avenue


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33°56'28.44" S 18°24'14.02" E Alt: 163m

House Letschert is immersed in a plethora of harbour, mountain and city views, climaxing with the Table Mountain cable way as its dramatic backdrop. This inspired our architectural response; the creation of a large garden space combined with the preservation of an existing mature oak tree, making use of natural materials with a heavy emphasis on stone and timber. With the integration of dense planting within the façade and external spaces it is envisaged that the building will become entwined with its setting over time.

[studioMAS, 2010]

Award citation

At the first encounter with House Letschert one is immediately struck by robust stone construction, setting it apart from the mostly steel, glass and slatted timber neighbours. The unpretentious urban farmhouse, with its huge welcoming hearth and lived-in spaces, feels as though it was built there a long time ago - thereby fulfilling the clients' wishes.

The brief also called for a large walled garden for two lively young boys. This was achieved by a plinth retaining wall that established a new datum for the house. The main building and the outbuildings contain a large expanse of lawn, linear pool, playing field and a mature oak tree-house. The stone plinth elevates the living areas above the street, allowing for basement parking, services, wine cellar and staff quarters below.

The house resonates with the Table Mountain back-drop in its sturdy fortress-like construction and the dense greenery on the facades and rooftop. It is envisaged that the building will become entwined with nature over time.

The centrally positioned stairwell - evoking comparisons to Mackintosh - is truly a light well, crowned by a bougainvillea destined to shade the glass roof. Sunlight also floods into the private courtyard on first floor to brighten the master bedroom-en-suite. Water harvesting, grey water system, solar heating, double glazing together with the deep reveals, wide wrap-around stoep and shutters contribute to setting a high benchmark for sustainable design.

This is the second home StudioMAS has designed for their client - signifying a satisfactory and symbiotic relationship. It is evident that the clients have embraced the design and participated with exuberance, flair and personality. The house has clearly addressed their needs and scale of family life.

(PrArch - The Cape Institute for Architecture. Vol 13 October 2011)

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.