The Apex on Smuts – a new, Manhattan-style apartment building in the heart of Rosebank, Johannesburg – has proven to be a market-leading residential development in one of the city’s hottest urban nodes. With its prominent position and striking, contemporary architecture, this recently-completed building offers the modern city dweller everything they could want in chic, urban living – and buyers are taking notice.
Designed by Messaris Wapenaar Cole Architects (MWCA) the arresting, wedge-shaped building is hard to miss. The prominent site on the corner of Jan Smuts and Hood Avenues, with its unusual shape, presented the architects with the opportunity to design a building with real urban presence.
“We felt it was important for the building to address its position at an urban scale and to have iconic character,” comments André Wapenaar, the partner in charge of the project at MWCA.
The wedge-shaped building extends into the point of the triangular site, creating opportunities for attractive balconies with sweeping views. The three large rectangular panels on the façade echo similar existing forms in the adjacent building, and fulfill the functional purpose of housing sun louvres. The building is raised off the site at ground level, allowing for parking below the building whilst maintaining visual connectivity from one side of the site to the other across the corner.
Internally, a central atrium which extends the full eight-storey height of the building provides light into the interior of the building, and is landscaped at first floor level for the enjoyment of residents. The 72 apartments are designed in a variety of types, ranging from one-bed, one-bath bachelor units to two-bed, two bath units. The apartments in the apex of the 7 th and 8 th floors have been combined to form a unique four-bedroom penthouse apartment. The interiors are chic but minimalist and finished in neutral tones, forming an understated but sophisticated ‘canvas’ onto which residents can imprint their personal styles.
A rapidly-developing residential market
The Apex on Smuts is the one of several contemporary apartment buildings to go up in Rosebank. This established and gracious suburb has always had a residential component around it. Although the CBD in particular became a rather tired at one stage, Rosebank has been undergoing rapid rejuvenation and has regained its former lustre as a commercial, residential and retail hub, thanks in large part to the construction of the Gautrain station, which has reinforced its practicality as a central location.
“When the developers first acquired the site, it was initially envisaged as the location of a new office development,” Wapenaar explains. “At the time the property was purchased, the Johannesburg City Council had started to implement new zonings in the Rosebank node which allowed for higher bulk on many sites. This tied in with the government’s policy of densifying urban zones around major public transport nodes.”
“Since there was an existing office building on the site, the original plan was to erect a second office block on what was a parking area at the time. Initially there was a suggestion to rezone for a theatre and office complex, but with the increase in the number of office buildings being developed in the Rosebank precinct, the owners decided to re-zone the site to enable apartments to be developed. “By the time the scheme was launched as a residential apartment block in 2013, the increase in residential property prices had improved and continued to improve thereafter, increasing The Apex on Smuts’s viability as a project,” he adds.
Importantly, the growing trend towards urban living meant that a residential development here would be attractive to buyers in a way that it might not have been ten years earlier. Indeed, The Apex on Smuts has been well received in the market, with robust buyer interest. Aside from the stylish contemporary design of the building, the location has proven particularly attractive to residential buyers who see its centrality and its proximity to train and bus routes as beneficial. With people increasingly buying into the vision of live-work- play precincts, and with many being more conscious of living a greener lifestyle (which includes making use of public transport and minimizing travel distances), The Apex on Smuts speaks to those ideals and looks into the future. Its location in the heart of Rosebank, within walking distance of Rosebank Mall, TheZone@Rosebank, the Rosebank Gautrain Station and a variety of other lifestyle and leisure amenities offers them everything a modern city-dweller could want.
Fulfilling sustainable goals in the ideal urban location
The Apex on Smuts has an ideal location in terms of its centrality and accessibility. With the Rosebank Gautrain Station within walking distance, residents of the building have quick and easy access to nearby Sandton and to the centre of Johannesburg, as well as to O.R. Tambo International airport on the Gautrain itself. The additional bus network, including Gautrain buses, extends the possibilities of quick and easy local travel even further. There is a Gautrain stop in very close proximity of the entrance to the Apex.
From a neighbourhood point of view, residents are spoilt for choice with a variety of trendy shopping spots on their doorstep. Some of these, like the Rosebank Mall and TheZone@Rosebank, are newly refurbished and offer a comprehensive selection of shops, restaurants and entertainment options. The increasing focus on pedestrian friendliness makes for a walkable precinct, which can now count attractive urban living options like The Apex on Smuts as part of its appeal.
When it comes to including sustainable features in the building itself, several energy efficient measures have been incorporated, such as the use of sun-shading to mitigate solar heat gain along portions of the façades and double performance glazing throughout the building. All the individual apartments are supplied with natural gas for the purposes of cooking, heating and water heating, which decreases the load on the electrical grid and ultimately results in less pollution.
“The building is integrated into the surrounding urban neighbourhood in such a way that it supports the use of public amenities and transport, which ties in with current thinking about urban efficiency, and about creating more socially and environmentally sustainable neighbourhoods,” Wapenaar comments. The fact that it is in the centre of an increasingly pedestrian-friendly environment implies reduced car usage.
“With its location at the south-western gateway to Rosebank, the building has a strong presence in the street scape, contributing positively to the image of the urban environment whilst offering occupants spectacular views of the city, Florida Hills and the Magaliesburg. It brings back the notion of chic city living as an integral part of a true mixed-use environment,” he continues.