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Shore Break

A sense of play, bold colour and local art and craft are as plentiful in this Clifton Fourth Beach bungalow as the sunsets that flood its laidback interiors. Say hello to beachside summer living.

Spend time in Bungalow 52, a beach villa on the shore of Clifton’s famous Fourth Beach, and you’ll quickly discover that there are clever moments within the home’s design that reference life on a yacht. A subterranean entertainment space flooded with azure light through portholes that allow glimpses into the pool. A steep wooden staircase, with concealed storage space. A considered use of what is essentially a compact, multi-purpose space. Skylights that offer views of the seagull-filled skies. What may surprise you, given the bungalow’s proximity to the ocean, is that a nautical theme was never part of the homeowner’s brief to architect Anya van der Merwe, co-founder of the award-winning Van Der Merwe Miszewski Architects.


“We chose Anya as she had designed quite a few of Clifton’s beach bungalows, and because we love her clean style,” explain the homeowners as we take in the villa from its perfectly positioned beachside garden, our backs to the setting sun, moments from its disappearing act into the ocean. “We tasked Anya with creating an easy-living bungalow, knowing she’d approach its design with her flair for understanding the balance of natural materials, light, and a joyful lightness of being. We knew what we didn’t want – and that was another massive, ego-plumping, and overbearing beach house.”


Given the neighbourhood’s zoning scheme, with its severe restrictions applicable to both design and construction intended to preserve the precinct’s architectural and community ethos, a massive house was never likely. More so given that once the dark and dilapidated original bungalow that stood on the site had been demolished, building space equalled an area of 140 square metres. “We were permitted to add another level to our proposed design, as the property is backed by bush,” says the homeowner, for whom the bungalow is a second property, one that’s available for short-term rentals when unoccupied. And yet, given its clever design, the compact space never feels restrictive. “One can see the beach from the moment you step through the front door – the living area’s seamless flow draw’s your eye out to the pool deck, garden and beach beyond.” Walls of glass, windows, skylights, and portholes connect areas and rooms within the bungalow to one another and open them to views not only of the beach, but to glimpses of Lion’s Head.


This same sense of place was a key consideration when it came to furnishing and decorating the home. Colourful local art and craft speak of the owners’ appreciation of South African creativity and populate all corners of the bungalow. From Conrad Botes bathroom cabinets (complete with hand-painted tattooed mermaids) to a Laurie Wiid Van Heerden bench painted by Lionel Smit in the media room, and from a green all-seeing monster sculpted by Frank van Reenen to a James Mudge dining table (both in the open-plan living space), you need not look far to notice an underlying playfulness to the home’s interior. “Each piece invokes a special memory for me and is an invitation to remember that play is essential to life,” the homeowner explains, pointing out several artworks. “Barend de Wet’s welded steel hanging sculpture in the living room reminds us how lucky we are to live on such a beautiful coastline, while Sanel Aggenbach’s bronze ‘Pieta’ near the fireplace that family is what matters.”


As thought-provoking and evocative as the interiors are, in the summer months it’s outside where the magic happens. Slide open the living space’s walls of glass, and the bungalow spills out onto a deck complete with hammock, loungers, and heated pool. To the background soundtrack of breaking surf, see-and-be-seen beachgoers and ‘lolly-to-make-you-jolly’ ice cream vendors, this outdoor entertainment space – along with the two-tiered garden beyond – is where the homeowners are most reminded of how holidays should feel.


by Martin Jacobs


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