Rock Climbing Retreat


House Welgemoed 

Size: 640 m² 

Location: Welgemoed, Cape Town, Western Cape 

Nestled in the tree-lined suburb of Welgemoed, this modern renovation project showcases the transformation of a tired house into a beautiful and functional family home that takes full advantage of its beautiful surroundings. The design perfectly merges indoor and outdoor living spaces with the client’s active lifestyle, replete with a motorised climbing wall and a range of comfortable entertainment areas.  

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The original house was constructed during the 1980s and had already seen a number of renovations. As such, the need arose for us (VKDB) to review the floorplan and re-organise the flow of the house. Our client, a young family with four children, wanted an optimally-functioning family home with six bedrooms and a practical flow. They are an active family who loves spending time in nature and they are all keen rock climbers. Therefore, it was a requirement to find a decent location for a proper climbing wall they could regularly use for training.  

The existing house already had a beautiful garden with a number of oak trees. We had to plan an energy-efficient home making use of the latest technologies. During our initial site visit we were inspired by the stunning garden and aimed to incorporate as much as possible of the outside views into the home.  


Aided by our client’s input, we came to a design conclusion fairly quickly in the project. Since it was a renovation to a home where they stayed for years prior to the revamp, they were well-informed of their needs and ready with their wish list. Planning took approximately six months, including the design, cost estimates, and municipal approval processes, after which construction started and lasted approximately 12 months. 


The planning of the house was organised to provide a separation between the more public living spaces positioned on the western side of the home and the more private bedroom spaces on the eastern side. We added a first-floor storey on the original one-level house to accommodate for a new main bedroom with a home study. Acoustic timber ceilings were integrated as part of the design to ensure living spaces absorb any echoing sounds and to provide a calm interior. 

We also created a garden pavilion — which we called ‘the solarium’ — to house the climbing wall. However, this required additional height. Making use of the natural sloping site we were able to nestle the building into the garden and provide a spot for the table tennis table and an informal lounge in close proximity to the swimming pool. Interesting fact: the climbing wall was designed to be motorised to adjust the climbing angle from zero to 40 degrees inclination, increasing the difficulty of the climb. 

Large parts of the house open up unto the garden through big sliding doors. We further added a new undercover terrace, the roof of which was tilted towards the existing house, both to allow as much northern light into the deeper laying lounge and to incorporate the view of the closely-positioned oak tree. 

Solar PV panels with an inverter and battery back were installed to provide electricity to the home. Borehole water is utilised for the garden and filtered to the house, while energy-efficient systems provide warm water to the house. 


Our material palette consisted of Rheinzink as metal roof covering and part wall cladding. We found this material to provide a long-lasting roofing solution when installed correctly. In addition, some of the walls were also cladded in this material, which helped to scale the height and massing of the building as the upper floor starts to integrate in the roof of the house. The material also provides the opportunity to create sculptural architectural shapes. 

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We used off-shutter concrete for structural retaining walls and left it exposed as part of the material palette. Western red cedar timber was used for wall cladding and shading pergolas as it assisted well with nestling the house into the garden. 

Site challenges 

Our biggest design challenge was to fit the larger solarium (due to the space/height required by the climbing wall) neatly on site. We shaped the building triangularly to minimise the elevation facing the house, giving maximum view to the large oak tree and aligning the one side with the pool. As explained above, the house was then also partly recessed into the sloping garden to reduce the visible height of the building.  


We (Red Daffodil) previously worked with the family on this garden a few years before, creating a shade garden of colour on the banks and establishing the trees and hedges. Coming back to a project is always a thrill, and we had the wonderful opportunity to update the space with new ideas.  

VKDB transformed the area around the mature oak that centres the garden. The hardscaping changes united the levels and formalised it with more walls and pathways, successfully taking what was a bunch of different, small spaces and simplifying them — something we tried to carry through in our plant selection.  

The client briefed us on wanting more colour, especially mature flowering trees. So, we brought in two huge mature trees: a massive soft pink Camellia for the verge, plus a magnificent Magnolia in the new entrance courtyard. In the back garden, we planted swathes of hydrangeas and flowering cherry trees. With the increased hardscaping and the fact that our original trees were now much larger, meaning more shade, we used indigenous Chlorophytum sandersaie grass in lush swathes. These long grasses sprawl over path edges, giving the garden movement in the breeze. An added benefit is the white star flowers beautifully dancing in the low light all year round. 

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Architect: VKDB Architecture Interior Design 

Landscape designer: Red Daffodil 

Contractor: CS Property Group 

Roofing installer: G-Tech Roofing 




Red Daffodil Logo

Chris Maddams 

Garden Designer and Landscaper  

Red Daffodil  


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