Proper Living


Size: 3987m2

Location: Observatory, Cape Town

The Brief

The site located in Observatory, Cape Town, is near numerous tertiary education institutions and is home to an ever-growing community of young professionals. Thus, the project brief was to design a building that caters to the needs of this demographic. The development was done under the Proper Living brand whose key principles are security, innovative design and community. With this we set out to create a building which would encourage engagement between residents to establish a sense of community.

The building is a nine-storey building consisting of 74 residential units with numerous communal spaces throughout. A variety of units ranging from studio units to four-bedroom co-living units were introduced to cater for students and young professionals. Communal spaces include a TV room, foosball table and other lounge areas, an outdoor gym and braai areas were also introduced on the terrace level.


Project description

A key design consideration for this development was to harmoniously respond to the heritage rich suburb of Observatory which consists of relatively low-rise buildings. The bulk of the building is broken up into smaller sections to better respond to the residential scale of the immediate context.

The façade of the building’s base was designed to mimic a series of row houses as Observatory is famous for closely adjoining small residential properties. The introduction of balconies overlooking the street connects residents with the streetscape and adds to the ‘fractured’ nature of the building. The tower is setback to allow the development to better relate to its single and double level neighbours. The tower is split into four sections allowing natural light to flow into deeper spaces within the building. Finally additional setbacks of the tower top and the introduction of angled roofs aim to further the reduce the perceived scale of the building. 

Balconies on different floors are offset from each other to create a playful façade. This together with the use of different colours for different sections of the building adds to the concept of a “fractured” building. The balustrades on some of the balconies were made from perforated steel, this provides a sense of safety from while maintaining views through the balustrade.

The planters on ground Level soften the urban edge of the building at street level. Planters were also incorporated throughout the design to bring nature to the urban environment and some of the units have private garden areas. Planters on the terrace level provides privacy between balconies while allowing interaction between residents. These planters also mitigate the urban impact the building has on the context.

Timber elements and the use of lighting, both natural and artificial, creates a warm feeling throughout the building. The units in the tower of the building have great views of Table Mountain and Cape Town harbour, large windows were used to maximise these views. These windows together with light colours in the units creates a spacious feeling even in the smaller units. 

Ultimately the development has been well received by students and young professionals alike and have become well recognised within the community. 

Meet the team:

Client: Proper Living

Architect: TwoFiveFive Architects

Structural engineer: MISC Engineering 

Fire consultant: De Villiers & Moore 

Mechanical engineer: De Villiers & Moore 

Electrical engineer: Frame 

Civil engineer: Engineering Advice & Services 

Quantity surveyor: Strong Consulting

Main contractor: HFO Construction

Photographer: Paris Brummer 


Vinyl Flooring: Gerflor – 010 753 2332

Terrazzo Tiles: Mazista – 021 511 6640

Signage: Ultrasigns – 021 510 3200


Eagle Lighting – 021 424 4071

Lights by Linea – 021 511 6116

Ironmongery: QS Products – 021 702-0905


Geberit – 011 444 5070

Hansgrohe – 086 111 1941

Appliances: Bosch – 086 002 6724

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