The Cocteau, a contemporary house in Higgovale on the edge of Cape Town’s city centre, is all about the huge vistas of Table Mountain. Its monolithic, flat-topped bulk, framed in the view from every window on the south side of the house, is a brooding presence whose moods change as the wind alters direction, or the rays of the sun move across it, bright in the morning but reduced to a warm glow at dusk. The rock, and the tree-covered slopes rising up to it from the edge of the city, provides a spectacle better than any painting ever could. How extraordinary to find a house in any city with a mountain in its garden – because that’s what The Cocteau has. The Table Mountain National Park, with its profusion of indigenous trees and flora, and its inherent tranquility, is its nearest neighbour. And if you sit in silence on the stoep facing the mountain you can’t help but allow yourself to be overcome by awe as you acknowledge that Nature is, quite simply, bigger than Man.
There’s an innocuous gate almost at the top of Kloofnek Road, a busy artery which rises out of the city centre, weaves its way up the lower slopes of the mountain through the districts of Oranjezicht, Tamboerskloof and Higgovale (with their cosmopolitan restaurants and shops), and traverses the ‘Nek’ linking Table Mountain to Lion’s Head, before descending slowly to the beaches at Clifton, Camps Bay and Bakoven on the Atlantic Seaboard – none of them ever more than 15 minutes away. Behind the gate, utter silence, and a winding staircase that leads down to the valley encircling the base of the mountain and to the terrace on which the two-storied house, The Cocteau, poised in front of that remarkable view, has been built. On the mountainside of the building, a wall of windows gives every opportunity to marvel at one of the wonders of the world; the entrance foyer even has a glass roof that exploits to the maximum the show-stopping potential of this extraordinary view.
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