Size: 3000 m²
Cost: R76.5 million
Completed: December 2022
Location: 6 Regent Road, Sea Point, Cape Town, Western Cape
Flamingo, the new curvaceous nine-storey building in Cape Town’s Fresnaye, is a striking fusion of twentieth-century avant-garde and coastal-city modernism. Designed by Robert Silke & Partners for Signatura, the structure is sculpted to frame its scenic surroundings, replete with nautical porthole windows capturing Lion’s Head and the hustle and bustle of Sea Point’s vibrant streets.
At the beginning of the project, the original FNB branch on Regent Road was demolished and the entire site was graded and cleared by Ross Demolition. After the building was brought down and the excess rubble cleared, the earthworks phase of the project commenced. This process included the drilling of piles to serve as anchors for the new building’s strong structural base, laying the critical foundation for the subsequent construction phase.
Bauhaus on heat
As the architects behind The Onyx on Cape Town’s Foreshore and the celebrated Tuynhuys apartments opposite the Cape High Court, Robert Silke & Partners is known for statement, sculpturally curvaceous buildings that transcend the ascetic functionalism of the developer norm. A far cry from your typical grey montage, the firm’s portfolio is truly iconic, which is why it was a no-brainer for Signatura to approach Robert Silke to make a grand statement in such a focal point in Sea Point.
The driving force behind the development was the desire to create a unique contemporary offering of micro-apartments for travellers in search of a self-catering experience. Essentially tapping into the Airbnb and vacation rental market.
The Flamingo’s quirky name is a deliberate reference to the upbeat tropical Modernism that marries serious European design of the 1920s and 1930s with the flamboyant grandeur of the great coastal resort cities of Miami, Rio de Janeiro, and Honolulu. The result is a fun and compact luxury apartment block that is playfully and frivolously sculpted — like Bauhaus on heat.
A stellar addition to Sea Point’s skyline, The Flamingo’s plaster-smooth silos rise like masts on a ship, the five cylindrical shapes becoming a defining feature of the development.
Decidedly dissimilar to the surrounding dilapidated flats and mediocre modern builds, The Flamingo stands proud as a peacock in the seaboard’s dense urban grid. Signatura’s chosen site is wide and shallow, offering full-frontage to virtually all of the apartments in the building. From the first floor through to the eight, the apartments share the same panoramic views.
In a celebration of the orientation of the site, 55 out of the 71 apartments face the front, all of which command dramatic views across Fresnaye, up the slopes of Signal Hill, and culminating over Lion’s Head — Cape Town’s very own Sugarloaf Mountain. The front-facing units are all cleverly cranked at a 45-degree angle, with most of the 16 sea-facing units enjoying sights of the Atlantic Ocean.
Few people understand mountain views in the Atlantic Seaboard require tall windows to maximise blue sky and sunlight above the mountain silhouettes. As such, The Flamingo’s sliding doors generously stretch all the way from floor to ceiling to capture the mountain views, whilst balconies are architecturally staggered away from the next apartment to promote personal privacy. It is this level of detail that has been considered in all aspects of the unique design.
The studio apartments cleverly harness smart design solutions to optimise every inch of the 25 square metres of space. A handful of one-bedroom apartments are corner units, each with their own individual design quirks and idiosyncrasies.
The nautical theme can be seen throughout, from gantries to silos and decks. Some units even sport super- sized circular porthole windows framing Lion’s Head, with other windows featuring frameless corners facing the sea. The overall design style can be described as modern, sculptural, and optimistic. Futuristic even.
Back to the future
Futurism succeeded the Art Deco style in Europe and the USA, but never made it to South Africa, where it was sadly eclipsed by austere and ascetic architectural Modernism, which (largely due to cheapness of construction) became the dominant force in generic blocks of flats across the country.
Futurism was, in contrast to Modernism, sculptural and decorative, playful and optimistic. First pioneered in Italy by Filippo Marinetti, Futurism was kept alive in the 1960s by John Lautner’s flying saucer houses in California, and is today best represented in the work of Zaha Hadid Architects.
The design style is synonymous with bespoke, premium properties in forward-thinking global centres. In pursuit of an aesthetic system in which to frame a new, state-of-the-art apartment building, the Futurist architectural aesthetic was the perfect fit for Flamingo.
Upbeat and upscale pallette
The apartments have been designed to maximise space and light, and feature quirky internal curves that mirror the rippling flamingo-shaped rhythm of the façade.
Gleaming solid white floors (also tilted at a quirky 45-degree angle) are a sophisticated and understated design feature melding seamlessly into the warm white walls and matte white joinery with elegant black metal handles, edgings, and trims — cleverly bouncing the ample natural light around the rooms. The bright white floors extend right into the bathrooms, where traditional ‘Johnsons White’ small-format wall- tiles evoke the clean and sophisticated metropolitan apartments of upscale Berlin or Tokyo.
As a remarkable and unprecedented standard feature, The Flamingo’s kitchens offer the subtle ostentation of solid Sardo granite countertops, which fold-up and wrap into matching granite splashbacks. All of this sophisticated monochromatic restraint is joyfully juxtaposed against a pastel flamingo pink feature wall
— simply because why not?
Signatura commissioned Weylandtstudio to custom design a bespoke range of furniture to complement the building’s beautifully articulated and highly functional living spaces. Integrating the furnishings with the architecture allowed them to maximise the efficiency of a compact living area, which can be hard to do when owners bring in their own pieces.
MEET THE TEAM
Architect: Robert Silke & Partners
Contractor: Alpha Omega
Quantity surveyor: Kahts & Sparks
Structural engineer: S&T Consulting
Interior designer: Robert Silke & Partners
Interior decoration, furniture, and styling: Weylandt Studio
Mechanical, electrical, drainage, and fire engineers: Solution Station
Electrician: Valley Electrical