Nettleton 198. Clifton . Cape Town / South Africa

Architect : SAOTA / Stefan Antoni Architects . Cape Town / South Africa

Photos : Adrian WM Jones

About The Architecture

With spectacular views over Clifton beach and Lions Head in Cape Town South Africa, this immense modern home built by SAOTA covers 6 floors with a project area of 1 203 m2. It is a single residence with finishes of the absolute highest caliber. This small enclave of Nettleton Road  is the most desired address on the African continent, with spectacular sunsets, paradise beaches and homes built into the mountainside. Few locations in the world can provide all of these factors combined with the exclusivity of just enough space for around a dozen homes of this magnitude.

198 Nettleton uses a grey exterior and modern shutters allowing it to retreat into the surrounds while casting an imposing statement of titanic luxury in true modern South African Stefan Antoni style. The scene is set immediately upon reaching the third floor reception where a glass elevator opens into a windowless Walnut clad reception and staircase, there is a striking glass backlit slumped glass lighting installation which unites the area with an open glass sensor activated cellar. Arc your way up and around the stairs, this is where Vadar meets Bond, an open plan living / entertaining space of villainous style set to host the last great night on earth . The sun and weather again are a key factor, the top level living area can open up to the west and east to create a completely open entertaining space which can also be sectioned off into a contained living area with colossal glass sliding doors. The structure arrogantly claims the sunset framed by an infinity pool and large metal louvres. I have photographed many of Cape Town's most luxurious homes, but this is the only one which brings it all together in one place.

About This Shoot

This collection of photographs was taken in April 2014 during the South African Autumn / Fall. With no preview or walk through prior to this shoot this home was shot completely blind with only one hour's notice to get my gear and prepare. Access was limited to this single evening and I completed this series of images in less than an hour and a half of shoot time. It sounds ridiculous, right? a structure of this stature, a phenomenal price tag and an unplanned hour in which to shoot it. That was the nature of the South African realty industry at the time and the red hot housing market. Throw my limited budget for equipment into the pile (I used and Olympus EP3 with no view finder! and very slow processing speeds for long exposures and high noise levels to boot)  it makes these images all the more heroic to me. I'll allow my self to sound big headed this once as it's proof that it ain't what camera you use it's how you use what you got (to a degree).  There are hundreds of shortcomings with this shoot, some due to lack of experience at the time, some down to my gear back then, some due to the 'hit and run task' at hand but it still remains one of, if not my all time favorite of the 900 plus homes I have shot. Most of these short comings are actually what make it that bit more special.

A perfect sunset shoot in Cape Town can rapidly deteriorate with clouds just beyond the horizon still not on the radar and the geography of Cape Town itself, while near gale force winds induced by the sunset could be tearing up the neighborhood around the corner it can be completely still right where you are standing half a mile away with your camera. It was clear this particular evening was not going to be a magical sunset but when the call comes in you have to complete the mission or miss out on the loot and the opportunity. The wind lifted slightly as it usually does the moment the sun disappears from view, the enormous arcing lamps swung about for 8 minutes (which is normal).. if things are still flapping around after those 8mins are up  you are in trouble, it usually gets worse, luckily the wind was killed itself off at 8mins and I was able to snatch as much as I could from this incredible home. During those 8mins of wind you have to work strategically, shoot the areas which are currently correctly lit and have no objects affected by the wind, the 'hero shots' as agents like to call them, they usually come later on about 20mins after sunset depending on the time of year. In order to capture the entirety of the top tier of the structure i would have had to scale a huge slipper 15m rock or zip around the mountain and get behind the property. I decided to let that shot go as it would have swallowed all the key time which is only about 35mins once the sunsets this time of year. Also in my desperate and inexperienced fluster I probably focused on too many real estate angles rather than focus on the sheer quality of this place. But it was a real estate shoot after all and even though I don't do them much anymore and back then I didn't cover barely any architects I knew I had to satisfy both my future aspirations and the current clients, which meant grabbing a bit of both but missing out on the finer details.

Adrian WM Jones

Adrian Jones is a Connecticut based architectural photographer & documentary photographer. With over 20 years in the field he has worked in many areas of the film and photography industry and now uses his vast experience to focus on photographing architecture for architects and personal documentary projects.

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