Natural beauty: a Pringle Bay holiday home designed by a local

Exterior of a house in the mountains
Restio River House is located at Pringle Bay, South Africa, in a rocky coastal landscape at the foot of Hangklip mountain
(Image credit: TBC)

Cape Town-based architecture practice Saota has used its local knowledge to build a hoilday home that resists extreme weather conditions while taking advantage of the sunlight and the sunsets at Pringle Bay. Nestled in a rocky landscape at the foot of the steeply rising Hangklip mountain and overlooking the South Atlantic ocean, Restio River House had to be robust in its construction, yet comfortable and relaxing within.

Saota director Philip Olmesdahl brought an intimate awareness of the geographic area to the project: ‘We live in Cape Town, where we work, but our "home" is in Pringle Bay,’ he says. Olmesdahl lived on the property for almost ten years before building, so had the opportunity to understand the intricacies of the changes in light across the day and the seasons.

Floor plan

(Image credit: TBC)

Take an interactive tour of Restio River House

‘The landscape has a rawness, with seasonal and daily shifts reminding you how profound it is to live in such a beautiful place. Experiencing the property before building allowed us to create a home that captured the spirit of the place – or at least as we know it.’

Olmesdahl decided to orient a staircase surrounded in glass to the north which would allow light to flood through the stairwell and into the kitchen. The staircase is a feature in itself, made of black, matt enamel-painted plate steel with terrazzo treads. The architects opened up the ground floor plan of the home to allow for a sense of continuous space and flow of light. The living area and the terrace look west towards Cape Point, positioned to catch the intense haloed early evening sunsets.

Floor to ceiling windows in a house in the middle of mountains

Floor to ceiling windows prioritise views of the surrounding mountain range

(Image credit: TBC)

The home had to have a sturdy structure to withstand the elements: ‘The climate of Pringle Bay is severe and ever-changing, but within the turbulence of the prevailing winds and weather this close to the sea, the area is still tranquil with incredibly memorable days,’ says Olmesdahl.

The architects used a concrete and brick structure, with grey metal-zinc frames. The strong horizontal lines of the architecture reflect those of the horizon and the layered landscape beyond. An internal courtyard provides a sheltered outdoor space, while surrounding the property milkwood, coral trees and waterberries were planted to blend with the surrounding fynbos.

Modern kitchen diner

The interiors feature comfortable furniture including neutral-coloured sofas and a custom-made dining table by ARRCC

(Image credit: TBC)

Spacious room with a sofa and open space

White and grey fabrics were contrasted with colourfully patterned Moroccan Berber rugs, French oak coffee tables and lacquered round timber stools

(Image credit: TBC)

looking upwards to the ceiling, viewing the middle of a black spiral staircase

The staircase is made of black, matt enamel-painted plate steel with terrazzo treads

(Image credit: TBC)

Outside space with garden furniture

‘The neighbouring architecture is modest, coastal and unpretentious with occasional flourishes of bad taste, but on the whole the surrounding landscape and valleys prevail,’ says Olmesdahl

(Image credit: TBC)

Bedroom with floor to ceiling windows

‘The house is robust and resilient, but simultaneously homely, layered and inviting like the environment,’ says Saota director Philip Olmesdahl

(Image credit: TBC)

Minimalist and modern bathroom

Terrazzo floors run throughout the house

(Image credit: TBC)

Terrace with a gravel floor

The upper bedroom opens out onto a terrace with a gravel roof

(Image credit: TBC)


For more information, visit the Saota website

Harriet Thorpe is a writer, journalist and editor covering architecture, design and culture, with particular interest in sustainability, 20th-century architecture and community. After studying History of Art at the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS) and Journalism at City University in London, she developed her interest in architecture working at Wallpaper* magazine and today contributes to Wallpaper*, The World of Interiors and Icon magazine, amongst other titles. She is author of The Sustainable City (2022, Hoxton Mini Press), a book about sustainable architecture in London, and the Modern Cambridge Map (2023, Blue Crow Media), a map of 20th-century architecture in Cambridge, the city where she grew up.