House Burnett Prinsloo is located on the forested banks of the historic upper Liesbeek River in Bishopscourt, Cape Town. The client’s brief was for a compact, elegant, clean-lined home, full of light and views of the garden and mountain, with an overall sense of peace and space. The conceptualisation of House Burnett-Prinsloo was a collaboration between the client and architect. Working from a number of initially divergent options, it soon became clear that the project was constrained by many real factors (e.g. the buildable footprint was small, achieving the number of north-facing rooms within the site was a serious challenge, finding sunlight for the rooms free of overshadowing tree canopy, creating distinct private living zones etc.). The architectural expression of the house was thus developed over a 6-month period through a series of careful and pragmatic modellings that tackled a series of individual challenges. These investigations eventually found form in a pair of stereometric volumes connected by a light glass link. The house is placed in such a way that it least interferes with the natural elements of the surrounds.
House Burnett-Prinsloo is unique in that every element is experienced as part of the whole and settled to the extent that each element cannot be imagined differently or separate from another. Privacy is handled in a subtle manner; while ensuring an easy relationship to both the street and the forest, the southern façade is relatively closed besides an all-glass front entrance, while the northern façade is largely transparent, with exposed rooms open to the treed garden and river bank.
In this manner, the house brings bespoke, intimate space to a context of natural grandeur, and articulates a dialogue of scales placed in relation to the southern buttresses of Table Mountain. Thus, while meeting the client’s requirements, the house’s architectural sensibilities operate in the larger international world – while remaining rooted in its very local place and time.