Dubai, United Arab Emirates (CNN) – Stephen Anthony, founder of the South African architecture firm SAOTA, likes to tell the story of the firm’s office building in Cape Town, Africa under construction.
When it came time to set up the roof, Anthony realized that it would block out part of the Table Mountain view, which is a landmark overlooking Cape Town.
So work was stopped until the roof was completely redesigned, so that the city’s famous mountain landscape was still visible.
This story highlights Anthony’s building style and his passion for highlighting nature.
The company has designed several buildings that can make you feel like you own a whole mountain, an ocean space or an entire city through the clever use of space and frame.
The company has clients in South Africa and the United States, as well as in Russia, Indonesia and Nigeria.
The McMansions homes designed by SAOTA express the company’s building style and an appreciation for the surrounding nature.
One such home in Cape Town’s Bantry Bay sold for Rs 290 million in 2016, the equivalent of $ 20.2 million at the time, becoming the most expensive private house sold in Africa.
“We try to tell our customers that good design has great value,” Anthony said.
Now, after more than 30 years in the industry, the company has produced its first book, Light, Space, Life, which features some of the most memorable models.
But where is the South African company going from here?
Anthony began his career in the mid-1980s, when apartheid and the cultural boycott meant that South Africa was largely isolated from the world.
He noted that his firm passed the “Little Renaissance” wave in a creative boom after apartheid, but Cape Town remained in many ways at the edge of architecture, “at one end of the world, at the end of Africa looking up.” .
“You are very aware that you are not the center of the universe and if you want to make any kind of impact, you have to do something extremely good,” Anthony explained.
Cape Town, with its terrain, situated between the mountain and the sea, and opposite the various monsoons, served as an incubator for the aesthetics of SAOTA.
Dr Philippa Tomoboweni, an academic at Cape Town University School of Architecture, Planning and Geomatics, said SAOTA has brought an innovative approach to architecture in the country.
The steep Atlantic coast of Cape Town, where many of SAOTA projects were born, served as a client front.
And when global markets plummeted in 2008, work in South Africa slowed, just as SAOTA began collecting mandates worldwide.
By 2012, she had designed her first home in Miami, Florida, to look like the deck of a luxury yacht, said Marc Polivant, chief architect of SAOTA.
one percent design
Today the company has 300 employees, who work in collaboration with architects around the world to realize its projects.
Tomoboweni believes that SAOTA’s focus on the early stages of concept development and design development, rather than the construction process, was the main reason for its success.
The U.S. real estate market further boosted SAOTA’s profile, with the SAOTA-designed pine project in Miami selling for $ 22.5 million in 2017, according to the company.
And in Miami earlier this year, a two-home Star Island property, the largest designed by SAOTA, was listed for $ 90 million.
Returning to Cape Town, a city with strong economic contrasts and different living conditions, Tomoboweni said SAOTA’s high quality projects were not without criticism.
She explained, “Although the critique is valid – and I agree with that critique – at some point, especially with architectural practice, there should be room to push people with the practice even further.”
Anthony insisted that he is more concerned about the value that homeowners place on their corporate-designed homes than on their financial value, stressing that “a home is not just a functional living space, it should have a emotional qualities … It should be a place where you can realize all your dreams and all your aspirations. ”