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.


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