WORDS Celeste Jacobs PRODUCTION Annemarie Meintjes PHOTOS Paris Brummer
Uxolo is a new development by TwoFiveFive Architects that offers its residents the opportunity to enjoy brilliantly designed micro-living in the heart of the Cape Town CBD.
Uxolo’s beautiful tapestry-inspired exterior has been drawing admiring glances from design-savvy denizens of the Mother City for some months now. Its clever combination of materials and colours is meticulously executed, making this one of those new builds that feels a bit like a work of street art from the get-go. And inside, it only gets better.
We spent some time with architect Theo Kruger – who, together with André Krige, is TwoFiveFive Architects, the creators of the building – to find out more about the project’s ins and outs. This is the first local development we’ve seen to really make the most of the concept of living in a genuinely small apartment. To put it in perspective, the majority of the apartments in Uxolo are about 24m2 – which, to many South Africans, is an absolutely tiny space.
Theo has been living in the building himself for the last couple of months, and says he will continue to do so for the foreseeable future. It’s not often that architects live in buildings they’ve designed – but when they do, they leave room for even more consideration of detail. “The initial concept was more towards short stays, with some long-term tenants. With Covid-19, that shifted towards a long-term focus,” says Theo. “Personally, I like the mix of long-term and short-term tenants – it encourages people to take ownership of the building, and improves building maintenance.”
Uxolo means “peace” in isiXhosa, and the building is located on Vredenburg Lane – another nod to peace. Walk into any part of it, and your attention will immediately be grabbed by pops of wild colour against neutral flooring and wall finishes. This combination of bold and understated tones seems just right, reflecting the kind of contrast that occurs when you blend the dynamism of inner-city living with the need for domestic tranquillity. Uxolo embodies this duality.
Micro-living probably isn’t everyone’s first choice, but there’s no denying that TwoFiveFive Architects thought of everything here. Entering one of the studios, the impression is that it’s compact, but not cramped. There’s plenty of breathing room, and the flow makes it easy to imagine how this could be someone’s sanctuary. The bathrooms are beautiful and kitted with all the necessary fixtures, which have been perfectly placed for convenience and ease of use.
And then there’s the kitchen: each drawer contains custom-made, laser-cut steel dividers to simplify storage, for example. These burgundy details are by Kink – another of Theo and André’s projects – and were made in Joburg and fitted here by their team. “It’s all part of our range,” says Theo. “All of the kitchens, every single steel piece you’ll find in Uxolo, from the storage drawers to the Murphy bed – we designed and made ourselves.”
There’s also a desk tucked into the cupboard – all you have to do is slide it out and set up your workstation. It’s beyond nifty, and such a pleasant surprise – particularly during a time when work and home life are so intertwined, but domestic spaces haven’t had much of a chance to adapt yet. Finally, there’s the matter of rest, for which the neatly stowed Murphy bed reveals itself. Move into an Uxolo apartment, and the only things you’ll need to bring are a mattress, cooking and eating essentials, your clothes – and a love for considered details.
“I’ve been telling André that the joinery and the Murphy bed, and where your clothes, the kitchen and oven are situated – it all works perfectly,” says Theo. “I was quite surprised…” So were we: Uxolo demonstrates precisely how micro-living spaces should be created, enabling design and functionality to live in a union of peaceful harmony.