When the owners of this apartment in a secluded corner of Killarney, Johannesburg, first encountered it, they had to look past its dilapidated appearance, compartmentalised interior and various complications arising from its being made up of two previously separate properties. Its innate qualities, however, shone through and, with the help of Georg van Gass and Clare J. Eisenstein of GASS Architecture Studio, they set about realising its potential. It’s a unique apartment block in that there are balconies that run the full length of the flats. While a number of walls could be demolished easily to open up the space, and it could be reconfigured to make a two-bedroom apartment (it originally had three bedrooms), there were a number of supporting columns in awkward positions that had to remain in place. These potential difficulties were deftly incorporated into the design.
WHAT THEY DID
1. This apartment is at the end of a corridor and, as is usually the case, the corridor ran alongside the apartment, but was separated from the interior by a solid wall. With permission from the body corporate, the owner was able to demolish the wall to incorporate the corridor area into the apartment, which meant that not only did it gain seven square metres, but it now spans the width of the building. The orientation of the unit was perfect for this to be used advantageously for natural cross ventilation and to take advantage of the natural cooling and energy saving that it brings.
2. Great attention to detail was paid to the apartment’s cupboards and storage. They were planned and designed in close consultation with the architects, which allowed them to become an extension of the architecture itself, rather than appearing as an afterthought. The result is particularly unobtrusive and well-placed storage that does not impose on the rooms. The fact that the apartment’s cabinetry has a consistent design throughout, for the kitchen, bedrooms, bathrooms and even the front door, adds to their sense of architectural integrity and coherence.
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This article was originally featured in the July 2012 issue of House and Leisure.