project

Through the imaginative use of colour and texture, Two Five Five Architects applied some interesting techniques to merge Agora Apartments into its environment. This case study examines how the project embodies the move from isolation to integration. 

 Complicated site 

building

Setbacks were created for natural light and ventilation on the zero-metre building lines, enhancing the living quality within the apartments.

Observatory in Cape Town is a suburb steeped in history and cultural diversity, which demands high levels of community involvement and public participation in the design process.  

The site, 202 Lower Main Road, is in the heart of this complex socio-economic suburb, where the surrounding context existed of predominantly one- and two-storey structures at the time of planning the development. 

To maximise the design feasibility and remain within the statutory development controls of the stand, the proposed scheme required nearly six levels above ground, built to zero-metre building lines on four boundaries. Setbacks were created, some over kitchens and others recessed into the facade, for natural light and ventilation on the zero-metre building lines – thus enhancing the living quality within the apartments. 

The following questions remained: How do you remain sensitive to the scale of the buildings in the area? And how do you relate to the context in a manner that is familiar but fresh at the same time? 

building

Integrating with the community, every plaster technique found within a 1km radius of the development, from fish scales to banana plaster, was introduced into the facade.

“Let’s hide it!” 

It was evident that the scheme could not be made “smaller”. The resulting design concept was simple: “Let’s hide it.”  

As a form of architectural camouflage, a drone was used to capture footage of the context from which contextual data was extrapolated. These photographs were aggressively pixelated and reduced to a base colour scheme.  

One facade is contextually relevant in relation to the mountain backdrop and the other celebrates the harbour beyond. 

To further enforce the contextual recognition, every plaster technique found within a 1km radius of the development, from fish scales to banana plaster, was introduced into the facade. This variety of “old” plaster techniques required the involvement of local plaster artisans to train the young team on site. 

building

Using drone footage, two colour bases were developed for the building, reflecting the tones of the surrounding mountain and harbour.

A sense of community 

A retail space was introduced alongside the public entrance to the apartments to activate the pedestrian edge on Lower Main Road, creating a high-street feel. This, together with new trees on the Nansen Road sidewalk, softened the public engagement of the scheme.  

There was a specific interest in supporting local design for the interiors. The brand identity was designed by Carina Comrie from Büro Comrie, and this in turn was introduced into the wayfinding and signage elements.  

Custom elements were included: 

  • Light fittings were commissioned by designers like Joe Paine. 
  • Custom terrazzo tops, in a playful green colour, were manufactured by Notation Design. 
  • Custom-made steel kitchens and lighting from Kink Design were introduced. 
  • Purpose-made door handles with somewhat cheeky but ultimately positive messages throughout the building were introduced by Two Five Five Architects, with messages like “Go get them” and “Hello good-looking”. 
building

Using drone footage, two colour bases were developed for the building, reflecting the tones of the surrounding mountain and harbour.

This development has become an icon within Observatory and has been incredibly well-received by the community and its new tenants.  

Project name: Agora Apartments. 

Location: Cape Town, South Africa. 

Architects: Two Five Five Architects. 

Area: 1 350m². 

Photographer: Paris Brummer. 

Lead architects: André Krige, Theo Kruger. 

For more information, contact Two Five Five Architects: 

Email: info@twofivefive.co.za  

Website: https://twofivefive.co.za/  

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/255architects 

Instagram: http://instagram.com/255architects 

 

Your blueprint for success - Don't miss out on expert advice and industry updates.

 

Subscribe to our weekly newsletter

Join an enthusiastic building community… stay inspired & educated on all your building needs