the ties that bind: a video tour of a bishopscourt farmhouse
No matter in which space you stand, there’s a distinct sense of connectedness permeating this Bishopscourt abode in Cape Town. Carefully engineered by Johann Slee and Yvonne Onderweegs of Stellenbosch-based architectural firm Slee+Co, every room offers glimpses of the surrounding landscape. Of course, this quiet suburb, known for its sylvan-like greenery, has no shortage of breathtaking natural views, so when the owners first alighted on the plot – with its abounding vistas of the Constantiaberg mountain – there was no question that whatever structure they created would need to be inexorably linked to its environment.
‘The houses we design respond to their direct topography, views and vegetation, as well as the history of the place,’ says Slee, who sized up the erf’s existing structure and realised he’d have to start from scratch. After razing the previous build, Slee analysed the site’s natural qualities. ‘There are three old plane trees outside that we wanted to respect, so we decided to build around them,’ says the owner, pointing out the towering trio that deliver those crucial spots of shade on a sweltering Cape Town summer afternoon. ‘We were very lucky to inherit these large plane trees, cork oaks and camellias from the previous owners, and so the garden had great “bones”.’