Elands Bay, South Africa

Elands Bay Hotel

South Africa’s West Coast is dotted with Victorian era towns and traditional fisherman’s cottages, amid widescreen landscapes of rugged beauty.  In this design proposal, the Dark Horse of Elands Bay finally weds its Grand Dame.


Elands Bay lies some 200 km north of Cape Town, along a highway that gradually becomes a narrow length of weathered bitumen. It is a mecca for surfers, birders and those interested in San rock art, fresh seafood, all within an ecologically rich and geographically diverse scenic wonderland. The combination of a winding coastal road and kilometres of off-road tracks also provide a lure for two-wheeled adventure.

Grand old Lady meets Tall Dark Stranger at the adventure-tourism repositioning of a Western Cape hospitality icon the Elands Bay Hotel by SOUNDSPACEDESIGN Architects Sydney.

This proposal to rejuvenate the Elands Bay Hotel boldly taps into this growing market, largely overlooked along this stretch of coast. The existing hotel is typical of the hospitality offer along this coast: a low-key family run establishment with direct access to the beach. 

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In recent years the rise of the sharing-economy in the hospitality space means that potential guests have a far wider choice in the area, hence the need for establishments like the Elands Bay Hotel to brush up on their offering.


The design proposal repositions the hotel to attract and satisfy a more sophisticated adventure-tourism clientele, whilst enhancing the room offering and accommodation options to include eight double deluxe rooms with patios, and eight self-catering/serviced-apartment family suites that sleep 6 in various key- combinations, that can also be individually let, doubling the key count.

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The Elands Bay Hotel has been the town's premier landmark and destination for generations


A municipally owned camp site in front of the hotel increases the potential food and beverage catchment and is more in tune with the repositioning of the hotel as an adventure tourism destination

Grand old Lady meets Tall Dark Stranger at the adventure-tourism repositioning of a Western Cape hospitality icon the Elands Bay Hotel by SOUNDSPACEDESIGN Architects Sydney.

A range of accommodation options from self-catering to deluxe suites combine with expanded dining options

The architectural design anticipates the duality of its key user group: active surfer/bikers, and the more passive, genteel entourages that support them. In doing so it celebrates the binary within this target market, virtually creating two identities in one, with what is essentially an ‘inter-tidal’ zone of confluence linking the two. 


On the building’s west-facing seaside, “Biarritz comes to the R27”, promoting a retro gentility appropriate to a grand dame of hospitality, a place for languid poolside activity, cocktails and sophisticated dining. In contrast, the inland-facing half of the hotel notches up the testosterone with a saloon porch that celebrates a more rough-n-ready playfulness, affording a tangible connection to the ‘town square’ and the surf-moto hangout landscape it encourages.


The arrival facade with its streetside saloon


The sea-side facade with its glorious balconies and colourful umbrellas.


The pool deck


Cross section showing Venturi effect potential of the atrium and the rooftop solar hot water battery.

The ‘inter-tidal’ Palm Court is a dramatic triple-volume of naturally ventilated space, with the roof line rising at this point to allow for considerable plant growth. The hipped roof above the operable clerestory ventilation supports solar hot water panels on both east and west faces making the most of the building's orientation in an iconic capping of the hotel which reinforces its landmark status.


The space is the hotel’s key circulation hub and the roof most iconic element, maintaining the traditional semi-public through movement and simultaneously supporting check in, lounging, greeting, kids-zone and café/dining functions.


A regional reinterpretation of the grand old sea-side hotel

Environmentally and socially sustainable, the revitalised hotel provides fresh incentive for visitation to the region as a whole, providing work and training opportunities as well as cementing its community focus. It maintains its physical footprint in a dynamic ecological coastal zone with a landscape conceived to protect that sensitivity.


If Elands Bay is a one horse town, then the Elands Bay Hotel is the Dark Horse, who could finally have met its Grand Dame.

Words - Robyn Harding

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