THE A TEAM
Cape Town based Architectural Firm SAOTA prove to be making waves internationally from Beverly Hills, Dubai to Sydney.
STORY BY JACK FREEMAN & IMAGES BY SAOTA
With an expanding network of Architects, Interior and Lighting Designers, manufacturers and Directors the “A Team” lead by Stefan Antoni, Mark Bullivant, Greg Truen, Phillippe Fouché and Philip Olmesdahl have caught the eye of some of the worlds wealthiest and discerning. SAOTA has become the go-to architectural and interior design firm delivering some of the World’s most exciting Mansions, Villas, Luxury Hotels and residential, commercial and retail developments, with an extensive eye for detail. With such International interest SAOTA’s latest project ZA 919 Cape Town has seen them return to soil close to home, where nestled on the cliffs of Lion Head a sprawling family home sits taking in 360 degree ocean views.
What are you currently inspired by?
“We are inspired by how people live in and through our buildings. Like Australia, South Africa enjoys a climate and surroundings that are conducive to an indoor-outdoor lifestyle. Our homes therefore facilitate dialogue and flow between the two. Conceptually, southern Africans have a significant view of shelter: for us, the flat roof is more essential than the vertical wall. Inhabitants of harsher environments such as Europe, distanced themselves from the outdoors and became used to living with more barriers between them and nature. When they experience the South African aesthetic, they respond, and wish to replicate it in their own homes and countries.”
Greg Truen, SAOTA Director
“We are also inspired by the settings of our projects. That every SAOTA design responds at a visceral level to its context, whether that setting is a South African cliff edge, Swiss lake edge, American sea shore, Russian Steppe, middle-eastern oasis, or an iconic urban location, is what has presaged our firm‘s global expansion.”
Stefan Antoni, SAOTA Director
What is it that you think makes SAOTA such an award winning, architectural and design firm with acclaim all across the world?
“At SAOTA we understand our clients and their aspirations, lifestyles and needs. From this emerges design that connects built space to external space, the landscape and the view; powerful buildings that delight yet are firmly grounded. Our projects exhibit sophisticated use of materials, precise attention to detail and a refined interpretation of contemporary global luxury, which translates into edgy, yet livable buildings that are without artifice and are, essentially, timeless.”
Mark Bullivant, SAOTA Director
“We try to create buildings that integrate space internally and externally in a way that maximizes their connection with the landscape and thus creating architecture that is inspiring, easy and empowering to live in. Our designs draw on clues from the spatial and cultural topographies of their sites resulting in a distinct architecture which advances the rich tradition of regional modernism. The philosophy of practice is embodied in the spirit of enquiry that flourishes amongst SAOTA staff. This spirit not only guides the firm, but enables it to maintain its position as definitive designers in a highly competitive and fast-changing industry.”
Phillippe Fouché, SAOTA Director
What was the brief for the spectacular ZA OVD 919 Project?
“The brief called for a contemporary, sculptural, open-plan home that would respond to its dramatic setting on a ridge above Cape Town’s Atlantic Seaboard. Balancing exposure to the 360-degree views with the need for privacy was of paramount importance. The southern boundary of the property is shared with Table Mountain National Park and respect for this sensitive environment was a key concern. The preference was for natural materials, clear spaces and a harmonious palette. The client required that the design mediate between the building’s functions: insular family home and expansive entertaining space. Two words that punctuated briefing notes again and again were monolithic and poetic.” Philip Olmesdahl, SAOTA Director and Team Leader on OVD 919
Why is it so many high-profile individuals and organizations choose SAOTA?
“Our office boasts over 100 skilled architectural designers who bring together many years of experience and a wide variety of nationalities and backgrounds. Our combined skills ensure that schemes are swiftly conceptualised in dynamic, yet legible presentations. We bring together research, cutting edge technology and tried-and-tested solutions to fulfil and surpass our brief, comprehensively testing the design as we go. The design architects are backed up by an advanced computer aided drawing office capable of detailed 3D analysis and presentation, and our clients are able to experience their projects in Virtual Reality (with or without a headset) before they are built. More than 85% of SAOTA’s work is international and since we have completed a substantial number of projects abroad we have developed methods to ensure successful delivery to a high level of finish in a variety of challenging locations from New Zealand to Central Africa, from Australia to Russia and the US.” Philip Olmesdahl, SAOTA Director
What makes for the foundation of a SAOTA home?
“We share a potent vision easily distinguished in our design: the design of contemporary, responsive spaces that enhance the life of their occupants by being perfectly suited to context and purpose, whether that is residential, commercial, leisure or retail. People are interested in quality, excellence and an architecture that has a personality and identity. These are universal concepts that are understood by everyone regardless of where they live in the world.” Stefan Antoni, SAOTA Director
What other exciting projects are you currently working on?
“Currently we are very busy in the US, Switzerland, the UAE and West Africa. While we are focusing on the Americas, Africa and Europe, we see potential everywhere, and every project is exciting. We learn as much from a visit to our projects in Beverly Hills and Volgograd as we do from trips to those in Shenzhen and Lagos. We are working on a project in Miami where the original heirloom home was saved from demolishment, jacked onto dollies and relocated to another portion of the site. For our project on Palm Jumeirah we designed a home that would mitigate against harsh environmental factors and the tension between public and private spaces. One of our projects in Russia involved extensive sun-path tracking exercises to maximise the three months of summer and any available sun thereafter. And in the desert outside Dakar, we designed a camp in a forest of Baobabs. Few architectural firms get to work on such diverse, exciting projects. We are very lucky.” Phillippe Fouché, SAOTA Director
Where is your all-time favourite travel destination?
“It is hard to choose, and each of the directors would probably give you a different answer. We travel prodigiously. But it’s probably safe to say that our favourite destination is Cape Town. Flying in, seeing Table Mountain, knowing you’re back home … it never gets old.” Mark Bullivant, SAOTA Director
Where to next?
“We have a few Australian projects; the first was recently completed so we’re planning a Sydney visit early in 2016. Also in the first quarter, we’ll be shooting a SAOTA multi-residential design that was just completed in London. Looking to new markets, we’d like to explore Ethiopia – it has enormous potential. And we’ve barely scratched the surface of the US; Texas is one state we’re likely to focus on next year.” Philip Olmesdahl, SAOTA Director