the mcconnell family compound

bishopscourt, cape town

The site’s full immersion in one of the most diverse natural biomes in the world coupled with an extensive brief called for a clear and strong concept. The brief called for a multi-generational family compound, with specific emphasis on how the occupants would engage as an extended family as well as their guests. The concept is conceived as a series of layers. The main enclosed interior space of The McConnell Family Compound is what accommodates the program, but this is the culmination of a collection of spaces that mediate between them and the outdoors. This layering has many facets that are integral, not only with one another but to the extremities of the site and the surrounding context. On approach, all that is apparent is the presence of a long concave stonewall, spanning east to west. Clad in shale, the structure encloses the motor court and highlights the mountain range towering behind it – each telling a story of the other. The wall creates an edge and a transition zone between public and private, noise and silence, solid and void. The wall houses all the garages, staff courters and workshop. Since the street entrance to the property is on higher ground the roof of the garage is visible on approach, as such it is planted with indigenous Ngoni grass, the soft delicate leaves contrasting starkly with the solidity of the wall below. An opening in the wall is a subtle yet intuitive entry point. At this point, a second stonewall perpendicular to the concave wall starts its journey. Spanning north to south, this wall is apparent throughout the scheme and acts as a spine anchoring the program. It leads one into the terrace whilst separating the guest cottage from the main residence. Sunlight penetrates from above through a narrow aperture along the entire length reminding the occupants of the passage of time throughout the day. This response to context and program formed the guiding idea from which all-lesser ideas unfolded. To maximise sunlight and reduce glare all living areas face onto internal courtyards, which are not immediately apparent on entry. The north-facing orientation of The McConnell Family Compound passively reduces energy consumption whilst photovoltaic panels and heat pumps further mitigate the energy consumption of the compound.

site: 10648 sq.m.
building: 1300 sq.m.
project architect: paolo deliperi
structural engineer: de villiers sheard
landscape design: kobus meiring
landscape: alan dawson
project manager: pdp projects
contractor: innes projects
home automation: digital expressions
photography: paolo deliperi