One block responds to a sloping residential street to its east while the other holds the edge of a level urban plaza to its west. The block facing the street comprises four allied buildings that gently step down the street, retaining a relationship between the apartments and the street itself. Each of these “sub-blocks” has a main entrance with access to four lower level apartments and their lock-up garages below. These relate to the street much in the spirit of a typical London residential street or a New York Brownstone. The return to a sidewalk-responsive apartment architecture is welcomed in a South African context where a retreat from the public environment has become the typical and unfortunate response to a perceived lack of personal security.
Above the shops on the plaza are two levels of simplex, duplex and loft apartments. The simplex apartments, like their counterparts face onto the residential street, accessible from four ground level entrances off a landscaped courtyard with its pool. The pool itself is almost obligatory due to Umhlanga’s hot and humid climate.
The building is quiet and subtle with a low-key modulation within the block facing onto the residential street. In the block facing onto the plaza, the facade is simpler, not stepped and somewhat classical in its commanding presence with its arcade shops below.
It is painted in off-white cool colours with louvers over external doors and windows for shade, security, privacy, and to let in the breeze. All essential in a hot and humid urban environment.