When Joshin Raghubar purchased this 291m² Green Point property in 2011, he was instantly smitten with its prime position and ocean and city views. ‘I love the area and the fact that the gym, local outdoor pool, Sea Point promenade and my favourite neighbourhood deli are all within walking distance,’ says Joshin, who owns digital marketing businesses with offices in Cape Town and Johannesburg. ‘But while I love the connectivity and convenience of living here, I also wanted a house in which I could retreat from my busy schedule – and escape the city’s noise and traffic.’
Inspired by the use of space in Japanese architecture, Joshin immediately saw an opportunity to extend his narrow plot’s footprint vertically. ‘Japanese use of space is genius as it constantly references nature and is designed with light and shadow in mind,’ says Joshin, who was very involved in the year-long design process. He counts himself lucky to have collaborated with Dawid Augustyn of Establishment, a design company based in Cape Town. ‘It helped that we share an appreciation for design principles such as shakkei and wabi-sabi,’ he adds. ‘Not to mention Establishment’s instinct for simplicity, beauty and naturalism.’
Shakkei is the Japanese term for incorporating a background landscape into the design of a garden. Set as it is on the slopes of Signal Hill next to the iconic Lion’s Head, the house’s facade and front garden read as a series of layered experiences, each a gradual remove from the road. The first layer is the view itself, followed by the hedge line of the garden wall, the edible garden, the lap pool, the deck, the terrace and finally the various rooms – all with shutters at every level. ‘The idea was that the layers would form a puzzle that when viewed together, echo the surrounding landscape,’ says Joshin.
And so his brief to Augustyn was for a flexible, spacious home that pushed the physicality of the site and both embraced and retreated from the city – no mean feat considering the narrow erf size and its position on a busy thoroughfare. ‘Luckily, the plot sits at the top of a cross street, so there’s no danger of a high-rise development obscuring the views in years to come,’ says Joshin.
Augustyn’s vision for generous rooms filled with natural light was realised with lofty proportions, a series of interconnected areas and capacious ceiling heights. ‘We had to make space in other ways by raising the ceilings and creating flexible areas that could easily be closed off,’ says Augustyn. Laid out over two floors, the lower level at the front of the house is given over to living, with every room leading off the kitchen. The lounge area is another flexible, inclusive space that can open up to the front terrace and back courtyard when all the doors are open.
When it came to the aesthetic direction of the interiors, Joshin looked to wabi-sabi – the Japanese way of living that focuses on finding beauty in the imperfections of life – to make his home feel welcoming and liveable. ‘Since the structure is bold and monumental, I wanted the interiors to be simple, unpretentious and to reference the environment wherever possible,’ says Joshin. ‘There was an existing concrete retaining wall in the courtyard that is highly textured with an irregular, rough-hewn quality, and it grounds the grand proportions of the space.’
A warm colour palette, a contemporary collection of furniture and striking artworks add another layer to the home. ‘I did some travelling through Spain, Jordan and Morocco at the time we were planning the renovation, so I came back with myriad references, such as burnt orange and saffron, as well as old textured walls and mosaic tiles that were hugely influential on the interiors,’ says Joshin.
Because he worked with local designers, much of the furniture in the house is custom made, while his art collection has been personally curated for the space. It’s this sense of consideration throughout that makes the house an eloquent expression of Joshin’s creativity and his philosophical vision.