An exciting new luxury residential development is currently under construction on Cape Town’s Atlantic Seaboard that will have history lovers – and property connoisseurs – salivating.
Alpha One is a six-story boutique development situated on the slopes of Signal Hill between High Level Road and Ocean View Drive, on what is one of the last possible prime building sites on the Atlantic Seaboard. Featuring 16 premium apartments, all with uninterrupted views, the story behind the site on which Alpha One stands is as unique as the building itself.
A military relic unearthed – Once the location of a 19th century fortified battery, a rare military relic – a “disappearing gun” was unearthed from below a derelict swimming pool which stood on the site. Buried for almost 100 years, this disappearing gun was brought to the Cape in 1885 during a brief period of tension between Britain and Russia. Britain, fearing that Russian aggression may threaten all their colonies, installed breech loading canons around the Cape, including three huge and mysterious “disappearing guns”.
Disappearing guns are a uniquely British feat of mid-Victorian engineering and are extremely rare. They had the ability to hide from enemy fire by lowering down into a gun pit with hydraulic lifting mechanisms. After being fired, they would disappear back into a vault under a protective shield. The disappearing gun in Sea Point never saw military action. The gun was fired once a month as per army regulations but was not popular among the locals because of the noise. There were a lot of complaints and eventually the land was sold by the Department of Defence in the 1920’s – after that the battery’s existence disappeared as the site was covered over by residential buildings.
Simon Bridges, Managing Director of Elemental, a boutique property development company who are the owners of Alpha One, explains that the project began in August of 2018. They were aware of the remnants of the Sea Point Battery under the site and once the structures above ground were demolished, the battery structure was safely unearthed and documented, without damaging it. The preservation and restoration plan, which was approved by Heritage Western Cape, saw the historical battery remnants being incorporated into the new development.
The now restored disappearing gun forms an integral part of the new building and features front and centre as a glass enclosed exhibition in the beautiful communal central lounge and wine-tasting area. Bridges says that a network of underground tunnels and ammunition storage rooms was also unearthed, and these are being restored and re-purposed into a wine cellar, with dedicated tasting areas and private wine lock-up’s for each Alpha One resident.
Every level of the building will have uninterrupted sea views from both the bedroom and living areas, as well as from the terraces. Added to this, Alpha One features a communal roof top leisure deck with a swimming pool, lounge and braai area that boasts some of the best 360 degree views in Cape Town.