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Lighthouse, Greenpoint
Greenpoint, Cape Town, Western Cape



Apartment Building (10 units)

Architect's notes

Building development in and around the Cape Town CBD has over the past few years seen the re-emergence of the 'Apartment Block'. The recent 'boom' has resulted in this 'type' appearing both centrally in the CBD and as much elsewhere, in the form of refurbishments as well as new builds.

The project became an opportunity to contribute to this developing discourse.

The brief required the maximum utilisation of permissible bulk with on-site undercover parking. The design had to allow for flexibility in the layout for the apartments. Initially a mix of studio, 1 bed, 2/3 bed and penthouse apartment types was required - providing prospective owners with different options to choose from – albeit 'under one roof'.

The site is located in the 'High Level Road strip', which, for some time, has appeared to be continuously under re-furbishment. The location is desirable – close to the CBD, the Somerset Road/De Waterkant precinct, the Waterfront and Giovanni's. There are spectacular views of the bay, harbour and mountains; the true attributes of Cape Town, further accentuated by a sense of the weather – when the cold fronts come in (or the fog horn…).

The site is zoned R4 - General Residential. This zoning category allows for two methods to calculate the height of the building. One method leads to the layered 'Wedding Cake' outline, the other to a 'uniform' outline – i.e. straight up. The decision was taken early; to eschew the 'Wedding Cake' and pursue a more autonomous form. The resulting structure comprises one level of basement parking, with six levels of apartments.

The form has been further articulated by clarifying the front, back and two sides of the building.

The front, facing the sea, consists primarily of full height glazing and deep terraces. The internal configuration maximises this orientation – all the primary spaces face out towards the views. The back, or street and entry side, contains all the means if access – being the elevator (with direct internal access to the apartments), 'back doors' from kitchens onto access walkways, which in turn are contained between the expressed fire escape stairways. In contrast to the front, the back elevation consists of punctured openings and is layered by means of the access walkways, escape stairs, the balustrades, and a stainless steel wire grid onto which a Jasmine creeper has been trained.

The east/west sides are screened with full height timber shutters.

Each apartment has been individually fitted out and decorated in accordance with each occupants brief – creating individual diversity within the singular, holding form of the LIGHTHOUSE.

All truncated references not fully cited below are those of Joanna Walker's original text and cited in full in the 'Bibliography' entry of the Lexicon.