houses, Uncategorized

Private By Design

Text Catherine Born Production Kate Boswell Photographs Micky Hoyle The first experience you have of Dirk and Lauren Molsen’s Cape Town home is of the rocky shoreline below Chapman’s Peak and the mountains that curl around Hout Bay like protective arms. Next you become aware of the towering South African and stone pines that hide the surrounding houses in swatches of green. It is only then that you realise you are standing in a home that, in any other setting, would scream ‘Look at me!’. And that’s exactly what Dirk and Lauren wanted when they conceptualised their home tucked under the Hout Bay end of Table Mountain. ‘I love the way it blends with the environment,’ says Dirk. ‘It doesn’t stick out of the land.’ The couple commissioned Cape Town architect Marco Bezzoli of Archilab to create a ‘nice little house; nothing spectacular’. However, while managing the two-year project himself, Dirk admits to becoming ‘very interested in design and finishes; suddenly everything had to be the best’. And that’s how his ‘nice little house’ turned into a ‘spectacular, magnificent house’. Originally from Hamburg in Germany, Dirk came to South Africa in 1989 for a six-month course at the University of Cape Town. Fast forward 20 years and Dirk, together with Lauren and their sons, Delon, 23, and Ali, 17, still hasn’t found an excuse to return. Having lived all over Cape Town, from Green Point and Tamboerskloof to Milnerton, the couple thought they had built their dream home in a leafy estate above Hout Bay, and planned never to move again. Then they were presented with an offer on their home that they could not refuse, and found themselves scouring nearby Llandudno and Camps Bay for a new plot of land. But something about the Hout Bay estate drew them back. ‘We realised we really wanted to be here,’ explains Dirk. ‘It’s a community. We became good friends with our neighbours. Here there’s a different dynamic to living off-estate.’ Suddenly the steep, narrow erf available on the opposite side of the estate began to look more appealing. ‘We realised this stand had huge potential because of the views,’ says Dirk. ‘Plus we could design a house that’s very private.’ Today it’s hard to believe that the advantages of this stand remained overlooked for so long. A contemporary crosshatch of uprights and unbending levels in wood, glass, stainless steel and textured-paint finishes was cut into the hillside on one side – making the mountain feel even closer – while on the sea-view side cantilevered decks and a rim-flow pool drop away to the property next door. Unbelievably for modern estate living, the couple enjoy virtually unobstructed 180-degree views. Inside the home is all about sociable living. A highly specced kitchen and dining area flows into a living room with wall-to-ceiling glass doors on two sides. It is here that the state-of-the-art home-automation system lives in a concealed cabinet. Aside from the irrigation and security systems, the unit also controls the lighting and music, the latter being piped to all rooms of the house and the outdoor spaces. Here the dramatic outdoors and indoors become one; the living areas are friendly spaces where people in the computer nook can talk to others in the kitchen, living room or even the swimming pool. With the city 15 minutes and ‘the best drive in the world’ away, the family are hardly isolated. Yet when you are here the home feels like a secret hideaway in the trees. It’s not hard to imagine all the stresses of daily life melting away as soon as they open the door and turn on their music in what Dirk describes as his ‘own slice of the Garden of Eden’. Dirk Molsen Productions, 021-422-2994,; Archilab, 021-447-8675,