Architects: Two Five Five Architects
- Area: 1306 m²
- Year: 2021
Photographs:Paris Brummer, André Krige, Carel Nicolaas Smit
- Project Designer: André Krige
- Project Manager: Theo Kruger
- Joinery Design: André Krige, Stephan Lategan
- Joinery Installation: Stephan Lategan
- Wayfinding & Signage: Su-Elna Bester van Blerk
- Project Architect: Conrad Janse van Rensburg
- Fire Consultant: De Villiers & Moore
- Façade Engineering: Sutherland Engineering
- City: Cape Town
- Country: South Africa
Text description provided by the architects. Uxolo Apartments is the first completed micro-unit residential development located in the Cape Town CBD. The project consists of 35 residential units ranging between 24m² micro-studio units and 40m² loft units, as well as a lobby and retail area on the Ground Floor on a stand of only 195.5m².
The initial development intention for the project was to create an iconic short-stay accommodation destination in Cape Town, with some long-term tenants, in the same way, that Tokyo has the Nagakin Capsule Tower and Rotterdam has the Cube House. The Covid-19 pandemic has however resulted in a re-evaluation of this approach, focusing on longer-stay tenants. This resulted in units that were far more complex in design to meet the considerably more extensive requirements of a permanent tenant. The change in focus required some additional planning but resulted in a building that arguably better responds to a need in the South African housing market.
For residents of South African cities, there are currently few ‘curated’ and cost-effective alternatives to the South African norm of urban sprawl and long commutes. The project located on Vredenberg Lane, an alley joining Long Street and within walking distance of Kloof and Loop streets, is within easy reach of offices, eateries, transport routes, and amenities. The relatively small size of the units ensures that they are affordable to a large section of the market.
In order to successfully accommodate a long-term tenant in the micro-units special attention was paid to detailing the interior of the units. A single joinery unit, almost stretching the length of the unit, accommodates all the possible daily needs and activities of a resident. The joinery installation was designed, manufactured, and installed by Kink Design, a branch of Two Five Five Architects. The fact that the joinery installation was conceived and managed efficiently in the same office ensured that the language of the project stayed coherent. The design of the unit simultaneously accommodates a fully kitted kitchen, built in cupboard, slide-out study desk, abundant concealed storage as well as a murphy bed that stows away to reveal a sofa for the lounge.
There are four of these studio units on each of the eight floors, along with a loft unit on every second floor. To accommodate these units the small site area available had to be used efficiently, with the building built right up to the 0m building lines. To allow for natural light in the units glass blocks were used, instead of stepping the façade back for windows. The resultant flat façade was treated just like that, a flat plain on which a tapestry can be laid. The design takes inspiration from traditional patterns as seen in the work of Esther Mhlangu, as well as contemporary textile design such as rugs by Ninevites. The glass bricks on the façade were combined with different face bricks by Corobrik to create a ‘tapestry’ that is low in maintenance and should age well.
The tapestry façade is punctuated by bright pink ‘marshmallow’ balconies on the street façade. These balconies create a value-added footprint to the units from which the residents can look over the city to the iconic Table Mountain. At the same time, the balconies also hint the ‘iconic’ image that that was part of the developmental brief.