The Alphen Estate, home to the world-famous Alphen Hotel, has a major new addition. New Court at Alphen exemplifies how development can achieve perfect balance on a sensitive site and complement a group of national monuments. Capturing the essence of a village at Alphen, New Court is all it was promised to be - and more.
When the development was launched by Equity Estates in September 2005, it sold out within weeks. New Court comprises 17 classic, elegant dwellings as terraced houses around a central courtyard - a new werf mirroring the existing one at Alphen. The effect is calming and attractive and creates a feeling of community. The Alphen's old Cape architecture influenced the scale and proportion of the building. The details, finishes and overall feel of the place sets New Court apart from the average development. Gabled ends, white walls, plaster mouldings, tall sash windows, arched entrances, French doors and flagstone terraces stamp a seal of style everywhere you look.
"It was a rigorous, lengthy process...but it was worth it" The Alphen Estate - one of the oldest and historically most important estates in the country - is the gateway to the Constantia Valley, an area of unequalled beauty. The chances of developing a grand terrace of spacious houses on such a site are slim but the managing director of Equity Estates Cape and the man who had the vision for New Court, Mike Deacon, made it a reality. "It was a rigorous, lengthy process, one that tested our resilience and our determination but it was worth it. While it may be tempting to take shortcuts, it is infinitely more rewarding when you don't, particularly with a site like this. And I believe we've struck the right balance here - rather like Alphen fused with a terraced street in Loader Street, Knightsbridge or Chelsea."
Artistic, sensitive design combines with realistic and modern application. Architects, MLH, were given a tough brief for New Court: Development had to be visually seamless, garages could not be visible (residents have underground parking); materials had to be consistent with existing buildings; it must not look like just any another townhouse complex; it must
complement the historical nature of the existing buildings and it should not be a separate entity to the overall estate but should still be integrated within it.
New Court at Alphen is built on portion of the 30 000 m2 Alphen Estate site where there were 1950s and '60s buildings of no historical value and which had previously provided commercial accommodation. The development has helped facilitate the regular upkeep and maintenance of the estate and kick-started the hotel's transformation into an exclusive boutique establishment. An announcement on the upgrading of this will be made shortly by Alphen.
"...an excellent example of a well designed and managed property development in a prime position" Construction of the New Court at Alphen development was completed within eighteen months, on budget and on time. Asked about the development, Alphen Estate's Dudley Hopkins said: "Equity Estates was a pleasure to deal with and this is an excellent example of a well designed and managed property development in a prime position. The surroundings have not been compromised at all - in fact, they have been enhanced. We look forward to watching the Alphen village flourish in the future."
Regarding the future of property development generally, Mike Deacon is emphatic: "Quality rules. People not only want buildings that work functionally and are priced correctly and fairly - they also want buildings that are comfortable visually to live in. There are far too many shabby developments going up in this country. Affordable does not have to be environmentally wrong and there is no excuse at all for so much higher cost development to be just plain bad."