The exclusive Somerset Lakes is situated in Somerset West close to the Hottentots Holland Mountains, False Bay, and the Western Cape’s wonderful wine country.
The estate meets the growing demand from families who are increasingly looking to live in close proximity to quality schools and other amenities. Somerset West has experienced phenomenal growth over the last few years. The recently opened R400-million retail centre, The Sanctuary, is the latest in a string of new shopping complexes, and medical facilities, including the world class Busamed Paardevlei Private Hospital. Residents have endless opportunities to experience an array of outdoor activities, including fishing and paddling on the estate’s six-hectare lake.
When tasked with the design of the housing components at Somerset Lakes, Schabort Associates deemed it necessary to go back to basics to redefine housing typology. The practice, which is renowned for producing buildings that are contextually and environmentally responsible, honest in their use of materials, and not style bound, originally honed their skills on bespoke developments, and therefore insisted on elevating the quality of the product through considerate design.
Within Somerset Lakes Estate all buildings are designed from first principles to ensure a solution that is unique to the site and all its attributes, and consideration is given to all aspects of the design, from the concept stage to the finest detail. By understanding and manipulating the budgetary allocations though thorough planning and materials selection, Schabort Associates have introduced elements that have never been experienced at this price point.
The development called for a wide range of housing types situated in various pockets of the development, ranging from flats to low-density group housing.
With diversity came the challenge of situating appropriate housing types in the site in a harmonious way to ensure that the extraordinary sense of place is preserved. The nature of certain pockets of the development also necessitated a fresh approach to avoid the costly manipulation of building platforms.
A series of garden apartments was developed that evolved the experience of apartment living to a medium-density, affordable, single residential model. The architects developed simple narrow extruded plan forms for economical construction that can follow the natural contours of the site. Careful consideration was given to material efficiency and foundation to-roof ratios to ensure that saved cost could be repurposed to introduce full-height doors, purpose-made windows, working shutters, full-height cupboards, and so on to a market that is not usually associated with these elements.
Elevation studies, drawing from the Gestalt laws, have been meticulously crafted to create pleasing streetscapes using a simple yet effective method of oscillation to create variation in street facades.
‘The value of texture and shadow as tools to create profound results is greatly underestimated,’ says Wynand Schabort. Colour schemes and material selection were informed by the immediate environment, such as the stone pine forest, fynbos vegetation and boardwalks, as well as the distant glow of the setting sun on the mountains.
Service areas have been integrated to be sheltered between buildings as far as possible to save the cost of building enclosures and to keep them out of view. This made it possible for an interactive streetscape to be composed with low walls and hedged fences. The aesthetic quality of the development has been preserved by a series of architectural and landscaping rules applicable to each precinct. These rules address any future building additions and alterations as well as the addition of services.