A South African colour explosion, i.e. colourful houses in Cape Town

No wonder why this destination is one of the most favourite for photographers and filmmakers. Colourful houses in Cape Town is a perfect background for fashion or luxury cars shoots.

The city itself is not homogeneous.  Cape Town can be divided into two or three different architectural styles.  What styles?


It’s one of the most recognizable districts of Cape Town.  It is formed by mosaic of closely adherent houses at the foot of Signal hill.  The streets separating them are very narrow, and the facades of houses are painted with bold colours.  They are both lavender shades, such as e.g. indigo and fuchsia.  At the same time, all the colours are very intense, even during cloudy days.  How to explain this South African colour explosion?

It’s up to history - according to the sources - it is a part of the city which was established in the 17th century by slaves brought there by the Dutch.  Mostly their quarters, barracks and stables were located in this area.  To this day, Bo-Kaap has preserved its distinctiveness - it is primarily inhabited by descendants of Muslims from Indonesia and India (including imams punished for inciting the people against the Dutch colonial authorities).  All of them are still passionate for bold colours.

The centre of Cape Town

It does not resemble the exotic Bo-Kaap at all.  Most of the preserved buildings resemble the Dutch architecture, though - of course - they have not been transposed on the basis of one-to-one scale.  Due to the warmer climate and less precipitation the buildings have gained flat roofs and porticoes in front of the entrance. This latter provides shadow even during the most sunny days.  The exception is a building of the Museum of South African History (which previously was housed by the Supreme Court) designed by a French architect.

Yet the centre of Cape Town is also a shopping district.  Its character differs even more from the exotic Bo-Kaap or the former colonial buildings (narrow streets, houses based on the Dutch style).  Modern buildings are predominant.  The buildings are tall, of a simple form, erected from steel and glass in the style of American skyscrapers.