PHOTOS Micky Hoyle WORDS Alma Viviers
A holiday home on fisherman’s bend in Llandudno has been named Belles Vues, French for “beautiful views”. This is, however, no glorified Belvedere, but a celebration of context and a subtle expression of culture.
When a senior executive living in Johannesburg bought a house high up on the slope of table mountain overlooking the seaside suburb of Llandudno and the Atlantic ocean, it wasn’t his dream house. But it had the potential to be. It had the location.
In contrast to the fast-paced lifestyle and intensity of the City of Gold, Llandudno offered a quiet retreat that combined three elements Acha Leke had been looking for in a holiday spot: mountain, sea and views. Capturing as much as possible of the views offered by the property was central to his brief to Bomax Architects, who transformed the house into his dream holiday home.
“I wanted a house that’s modern but not over the top,” says Acha. “I also wanted to capitalise on the views of the mountain, the sea, the beach and Llandudno.”
“Acha is outgoing and dynamic, and we wanted to reflect his personality in the design,” says Dion Walters, principal architect at Bomax. “If this was to be his dream holiday home, it required major remodelling.”
All that remained of the original house was the concrete superstructure, which could be reused without compromising the structural and geological stability of the site. Bomax Architects reconfigured the main house, separating out the master suite and guest quarters, which were included in an annex to the main house, opening up the facades to the all-important views, and adding balconies and terraces that give access to the outside on all levels of the house.
Getting to the main house from street level was always going to be a climb, says Dion. “We wanted it to be interesting and incorporate the vegetation as much as possible, so we designed the staircase to float over the garden and under the trees. The journey up to the house is now an interesting route with different views opening up at each landing.”
The experienced team from OKHA was called in to create an interior that reflects the natural environment and has a subtle African feel, expressing Acha’s love for the continent. The formal lounge area on the ground floor has a muted palette, with natural light expressing the textures of organic materials such as etched raw oak, vintage leather, satin brass and granite. The entertainment level, which houses the audiovisual home cinema system, is a more vibrant expression of African earth-inspired colours with custom-designed graphic rugs and a classic retro feel.
The bedrooms, which are the epitome of effortless chic, allow the views of the sea and mountain to be focal points throughout. “Given the modern African design narrative that Acha wanted to express,” says Adam Court, head designer at OKHA, “I knew we would be creating custom pieces for the project. This is always a bonus and something that challenges me and brings great personal satisfaction.” Various pieces custom-designed by OKHA are embedded with subtle African references: The front door, entrance server, entertainment lounge server and rugs all echo African motifs, sculpture and scarification.
Acha credits the success of the project to the great collaboration between himself, the architect and the interior designer. He loves spending time here and wishes he could spend more – in the sun room upstairs, on the deck outside or in the master bedroom, enjoy ing the views: “The problem is these amazing views make it very hard for me to leave the house.”