The Houghton - Mansions in the sky

In one of Johannesburg’s most exclusive developments, buyers are paying R50 million plus to turn “white box” apartment shells into bespoke designer “mansions in the sky”.

Can you picture being given a blank canvas to design the interior of your dream home and the only limit was your imagination? A discerning buyer did just that with his luxury penthouse in The Houghton.
Working with Pellerade Design House (specialists in “White Box” projects), who handled the architectural and interior designs and décor, the owner made their ultimate living space a reality by joining three white box apartments together to create a 1200m², triple-storey penthouse paradise.
Featuring a private cinema, gentleman’s library, billiard room, Italian-bricked wine cellar and personal spa, the residence features every conceivable luxury.
Commenting on the reasons behind the popularity of the new property trend, Stephen Pellerade says, “White boxes allow those who can afford to, to live in developments of their choice with the exact space layouts and finishes that they want; as opposed to what is offered as standard.”
The white boxes typically occupy the prime location in a development and are usually the penthouses. As they are entirely bespoke, these “trophy” properties can command staggering prices and are breaking records from New York to Hong Kong to Johannesburg.

Having recently spent a two week study of the new building London property scene, Pellerade comments, “our South African standard of bespoke architectural and interior design service is on par, if not ahead, of what’s happening in the London market when you examine their same tried and tested designs.  South African designers are really thinking out the box with layouts and features.”
Pellerade is currently completing another three-storey white box penthouse at The Houghton with a staggering triple-volume internal staircase and an estimated R75 million spend.
Buying “Raw”
The Houghton has its own in-house bespoke fitment team who work with the white box buyers’ selected interior designers, builders and subcontractors to manage the design of what management calls “mansions in the sky”.
The team ensures that everything is delivered on time, within the main contractor programme that oversees the balance of the apartments being built in the specific phase.
From walk-in cold rooms to gyms, cigar lounges, teppanyaki bars and floating bomas and day beds, the team has made it all a reality for the discerning owners of The Houghton’s prestigious white box apartments. They have even had a request for a bowling alley.
Who are the White Box Buyers?
Attracted by the central and picturesque location of The Houghton, which overlooks the lush fairways of a Jack Nicklaus signature golf course, the owners of these opulent apartments are seeking a lock-up-and-go, off-the-grid home that is the epitome of style and luxury.

The white box buyer may be someone who already has a holiday home at the coast or in the bush, but while in Johannesburg they want a safe, low-maintenance home but with certain square meterage and all the necessary luxuries they had in their old one to two acre properties in the suburbs. They know what they want and will pay any price for it, often upwards of R43,000 a square metre.

“For the elite, the unique lifestyle offered by The Houghton is the future of living in Johannesburg. With its discreet state-of-the-art security, you are free to live the good life, from playing a round of golf in the afternoon to enjoying a stroll to the clubhouse for lunch,” says David Nagle, a director of Seven and Twelve on Houghton (Pty) Ltd.

All this without having to skimp on space or the wow factor these seasoned entertainers are accustomed to. With no expense spared, the tiles are imported from Italy and the appliances from Germany with the Houghton fitment team installing high-end SieMatic, Poggenpohl and Delawood kitchens and quality finishes including Grohe, Zucchetti, Duravit, Gaggenau and Siemens.
5-Star Lifestyle
With access to an in-house concierge, laundry and butler services, as well as off-site accommodation for domestic workers, “residents of The Houghton can enjoy their own creature comforts and all the perks of a new luxury five-star hotel in a truly one-of-a-kind location,” says David Nagle.
When the exclusive hotel and residents club is complete, owners will also have access to pools, gyms, spas, restaurants and conference facilities.
Nagle says they are seeing increased interest in apartment sales from savvy buyers who realise that once the new five star hotel, a member of the Leading Hotels of the World, is completed, the price per square metre per apartment will skyrocket.
Residents living in The Houghton development, who are sold on the concept and have experienced its potential, are snapping up additional units to be held as investments.  “There can only be one Houghton – there is no other development like this and once all apartments are sold, there won’t be an opportunity to own your slice of one of Joburg’s most sought-after addresses,” says Nagle.
In the next phase of development, Nagle revealed plans for a R100 million 1700m² apartment – just take a minute to fantasise about what you would put into this white box – a yoga studio, a golf simulator, a helipad? The possibilities are endless.

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