Noordhoek beach house

Text Freya Clyde Styling Kerstin Eser Photographs Elsa Young / Frank Features Just 40 minutes from Cape Town, Matthew Hodgson’s Noordhoek beach pad is a place for sleeping, reading, long walks and all-round relaxation. It’s a huge contrast in lifestyle for urbane Matthew, an investment banker who, prior to his move to London several months ago, had lived in Tokyo for 16 years. ‘Cape Town will always be home to me as it’s where I grew up,’ he says. ‘Having a house like Waterline has long been a dream.’ Although Matthew left South Africa 20 years ago, he’s made regular visits to catch up with family and friends, and to meet with property developer Anthony Meyer, his business partner in design consultancy Mooi Interior Concepts. Having worked on several successful renovation projects together, Matthew and Anthony were keen to build a house from scratch. Their brief, says Matthew, was ‘to create an iconic structure that would change the way people think about beach living’. Having searched the peninsula for a location boasting ‘a relaxed beach vibe’ but still close to the city, Noordhoek was an obvious choice. Originally built as an investment property to sell on, Matthew loved Waterline so much that during the process he decided to buy it outright. Their idea for a clean, uncluttered design had them looking to Mid-Century architects such as Richard Neutra, Mies van der Rohe, Craig Ellwood and particularly to Pierre Koenig’s Stahl House. And such was their passion to get it right that they travelled as far afield as Hawaii, Bali, Singapore, Australia, Los Angeles and Japan in search of inspiration. ‘It was a wonderful experience to devote ourselves to researching what has been done architecturally and how we could implement these learnings in Waterline,’ says Matthew. When the 1 600m² sea-facing plot in Noordhoek came onto the market, they snapped it up. The existing house was demolished, and daily phone calls between Tokyo and Cape Town, along with the wonders of the internet and digital photography, allowed the two to discuss and agree upon virtually every aspect of the process. Just as well, for when a massive storm claimed the roof of a neighbour’s house, they were able to go back to the drawing board and reinforce the concrete structure with steel and install ‘shop front tolerance’ windows and doorframes that seal completely. As it’s predominantly concrete and steel, wood was used throughout the interior and exterior of the house to soften the harsh lines. ‘We used iroko for indoors and balau for the decking and cladding, but we were lucky as the surrounding environment with its sand dunes and long grasses does a lot to soften the minimalist lines we tend towards,’ Matthew explains. He wanted the house to feel part of the elements rather than closed off from them, but had to think ‘long and hard’ about how to beat the harsh conditions peculiar to the area. This they achieved by placing the main upper living areas on a west/east plane to act as a barrier to wind. Now in summer when the southeaster threatens a perfect Cape day, the back of the house can be closed up while all the doors on the upper deck overlooking the sea can be left open, perfectly protected. As the house faces north, light streams into every room all year round while statuesque ceiling heights with six-metre open voids in the entrance and main structure make it feel like an airy pavilion. There’s nothing here that has not been carefully considered and crafted to perfection. The interiors are no exception, with ‘each piece of furniture having been purchased or custom made specifically for each space,’ says Matthew. So you’ll find Mies van der Rohe and Eames chairs alongside artworks commissioned in Japan and a collection of poster-size photographs that Matthew took on his travels. ‘I wanted the furniture and art to act as the glue between the design of the house and its Mid-Century roots. Accentuating those roots was top of mind with every purchase I made.’ In spite of its Mid-Century inspiration, the house has none of the hardness or the predictable time-capsule feel common to many modern homes, thanks to the relationship it enjoys with its environment. Surrounded by sand, sea, sky, mountains, vineyards, dunes and pastures, Waterline is a modern marvel of meditation and relaxation. Find Waterline Luxury Villa Accommodation on Facebook and click ‘like’ to become a member of the group, or visit MATTHEW’S HOME TRUTHS The best thing about this beach house is how connected you feel to nature. I love that it affords total privacy, yet at the same times lends itself perfectly to communal living. That’s what ‘living the holiday’ is all about, and having family and friends to stay is what anchors me to my roots and beginnings. The first thing I do when I get here is dive into the pool to wash away the stresses of living away from the city I love the most. Cape Town is home and coming back to Waterline is a dream come true. I’m inspired by great architects and designers, past and present, as they change the way we live and how we connect with each other and with our environment. I collect books with a particular emphasis on architecture. My favourite room in this house is the kitchen. From here you have views of the ocean, mountains and vineyards as well as across the house on both levels. This is the place of congregation and connection, where there’s always a buzz. My entertaining style when I’m here is relaxed and inclusive. I don’t go in for formality and I love it when family and friends arrive unannounced. Would a South African house at the coast be the same without the braai as a central theme? I can’t get enough of the ocean and mountain views and the proximity to the beach. What I miss about Tokyo are great friends and the best food in the world. I’ll go back to visit for sure but I’m very happy to have moved back into Western culture again. This article was featured in the October 2011 issue of House and Leisure.