houses, Seaside

A layered retreat in Green Point

Alexander van Berge/Frank Features



Set on the slopes of Signal Hill, the house was expanded vertically and makes clever use of layered spaces that gradually retreat from the street. The views are maximised and at the same time, a sense of privacy is achieved.

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.’

A painting by South African artist John Murray stands out against charcoal walls in the entrance hall of Joshin Raghubar’s home in Green Point, Cape Town. The hanging Torch light is by Sylvain Willenz for Established & Sons, and the rug was custom designed for the space by Nakara Carpets.

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.

green point homeTrue to Joshin’s brief for warmth, light and colour, the living areas are vibrant and inviting, with a yellow TV cabinet by Swiss furniture company USM dominating in the lounge. A large Persian carpet and two vintage Danish armchairs balance out the contemporary coffee table by Anatomy Design and steel sidetables by Dawid Augustyn of Establishment, with whom Joshin collaborated on the interiors. A painting by Blessing Ngobeni makes a statement in the dining room beyond, with its wooden floors, table by Establishment and leather chairs by Piers Mansfield-Scaddan.

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.’

The built-in staircase was designed so that it conceals the treads of the staircase leading upstairs. The lamp is by Artemide and the painting above the stairs is by Blessing Ngobeni.

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.

In an effort to save space in the lounge, Augustyn designed a built-in sofa and bookcase with recessed shelves. ‘It was a reference from a yacht design that I’d seen and loved,’ says Joshin. Mottled grey couch cushions introduce texture to the area, and scatters by Ardmore along with traditional Basotho blankets add yet more colour and pattern.
In the main bedroom, the design tensions between separateness and openness, warmth and minimalism are harmonised through the integrated floor-to-ceiling wood-panelled bath and shower area. The bookcase bath unit, hanging mirror and bedside tables are all Augustyn’s designs, and the low-hanging pendant is by Porky Hefer.
Joshin enjoying his shady front terrace on custom outdoor furniture by Dark Horse.
Natural references have been included in the main bathroom in the form of an ink butterfly-wing artwork by Stephen Rosen and wall-mounted glass terrariums from Opus Studio.