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Shaping the Sandton skyline

Shaping the Sandton skyline

The flagship penthouse apartment in the iconic new Katherine and West building offers big-apple living in the heart of Gauteng’s economic hub.

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The lower deck with its plunge pool and seating area leads off the living room and offers a mesmerising perspective of the Alexander Forbes building opposite and the Michelangelo Hotel to its side


A Scenic Scope of Sandton

A bird’s-eye view of Sandton and its surrounding suburban neighbourhoods is on offer from the penthouse’s roof terrace. The elegant Velombra sail awning – an Italian import – provides shade when the sun reaches its zenith. Fully automated, it is also fitted with an anemometer, which will allow the sails to be rolled up within minutes when the wind picks up Intersecting waves of glass draw the eye along the street façade of Sandton’s new Katherine & West high-rise, evoking as they do a sense of kinesis that echoes the unremitting torrent of traffic surging through the commercial capital’s byways below. It’s not surprising that the genesis of the building’s design – which has undeniably set a new architectural bar in the area – was the unique nature of its site. ‘In addition to its constrained triangular geometry, the structure inevitably presents itself to oblique views from the intersection of West and Rivonia roads, and West and Katherine streets,’ explains architect Guy Steenekamp of LYT Architecture. ‘Because it was therefore not an “object” building like many of its neighbours, a different approach to the façade was called for.’ The choice of glass, too, says Steenkamp, was informed by the building’s orientation, as well as from the desire ‘to create a seemingly homogenous reflective wall that would complement the dynamism of the curves.’


Fully weather-resistant, the curvaceous Italian chaise on the deck is offset by funky Belgian stools (used as side tables) in a shade of eye-popping canary yellow

Fully weather-resistant, the curvaceous Italian chaise on the deck is offset by funky Belgian stools (used as side tables) in a shade of eye-popping canary yellow

Sandton City Living

Even from its approach there is nothing conventional about Katherine & West and its luxurious flagship apartment, one of seven bespoke units that occupy the 10-storey building’s upper two levels, is further evidence of the singularity of this ambitious project. The penthouses were designed to give their inhabitants – primarily high-end executive buyers seeking a premium city-living lifestyle – ‘a unique sense of place within Africa’s financial capital,’ says Mark Uhlmann of The Barrow Group, the property’s developer. Occupying almost 750m2, penthouse number six certainly doesn’t compromise on space. Cocooned in glass as if suspended in a world apart from the throb of the encompassing city sprawl, and accessed via a dedicated elevator from a private lobby, the apartment is largely open-plan on its lower level, with an easy fluidity existing between the kitchen, dining and entertaining areas and the outside deck and plunge pool. Upstairs, each of the three large bedroom suites provides breathtaking views of Sandton and Inanda as well as distant horizons of the Johannesburg skyline. And, above that, the roof terrace, which has a generously sized private deck, Jacuzzi and built-in gas braai, not to mention astonishing 360-degree vistas, offers a sense of seamless integration with the urban surroundings.

Timeless Architecture and Luxurious Interiors

These surroundings, too, provided the impetus for the apartment’s interior outfitting. ‘The building’s very distinctive architecture as well as its metropolitan setting set the tone inside, which is clean and contemporary but still homely and welcoming,’ says Michael Harrison, who heads up Head Interiors, the design consultancy tasked with the job of giving each penthouse is own unique identity. A mix of local and European suppliers was used, the defining criterion being quality of design and craftsmanship, continues Harrison: ‘So, on the one hand you have a Febal City kitchen with Miele integrated appliances from Italy, and, on the other, a custom-designed cocktail bar, fireplace and server by Gigi’s Design House in Port Elizabeth. Or, for that matter, imported marble tiling in the bathroom and a one-off painting by a local artist on the bedroom wall.’ Harrison adds that, while workmanship and luxury were key in setting the tone for the interiors, so too was practicality and usability.

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Lending a contemporary edge to the open-plan entertaining areas, the cocktail bar, fireplace and server were custom designed by Gary Bosch of Gigi’s Design

Lavish Living

He points out the sofas in the living area, all upholstered in serviceable chocolate leather; the coffee table, a robust granite and-chrome piece; and the rugs that soften the sobriety of hard-wearing wooden floors. ‘The deck furnishings, for instance, may all be suave Italian imports but they’re also completely water resistant so don’t need to be hauled in and out according to the vagaries of Joburg’s erratic weather moods,’ he says. Aside from the fact that Katherine & West residents have access to a rarefied selection of amenities, including the opportunity to lease prime office space in what has to be the most accessible location in the whole of Johannesburg, they also have the peace of mind that comes with the very latest energy-efficient building technologies. ‘All the apartments feature solar geysers and environmentally friendly sanitation fittings, and air conditioning is by way of a sophisticated VRF [variable refrigerant flow] system, which allows individual zone temperature control,’ explains Uhlmann, adding that lighting, too, is operated throughout via low-energy wireless control with five ‘scene settings’ achievable at the flick of a switch.   But according to Kent Gush, MD of Kent Gush Properties, marketers for Katherine & West’s residential apartments, the best feature of these unique penthouses – apart from their location on the doorstep of both the Gautrain and Sandton City, of course – is their exclusivity: ‘Their uniqueness lies in the fact that there are only seven of these bespoke apartments straddling what is arguably the most impressive new commercial building to come to the centre of the Sandton CBD, itself the fiscal heartbeat of the continent.’

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Chocolate leather sofas and a sturdy granite-and-chrome coffee table add a practical masculinity to the living room

Simple Sandton Accessibility  

When it comes to location, location, location, Katherine & West’s accessibility is without equal. Not only does Sandton’s newest architectural tour de force boast direct access to the main arterial roads of Rivonia Road and Katherine Street, with the M1 Grayston Drive on-ramp just two kilometres away, it also neighbours the Sandton Gautrain Station, offering a one-way ticket to OR Tambo International. Comprising premium office space as well as seven bespoke penthouses primarily targeted at the national and international business market, the building is conveniently surrounded by an excellent support infrastructure including seven international hotels, Sandton City shopping centre, the Sandton Convention Centre and Nelson Mandela Square, all of which are within walking distance. The Johannesburg Stock Exchange as well as head offices of major local and international corporations are also clustered within close proximity.

Sandton has fast become known as the ideal address. By day, commerce thrives as people work, lunch and shop, and by night it is alive with energy, offering some of the city’s best restaurants, wine bars and night life.

-Kent Gush of Kent Gush Properties

  On Sale: For more information on Katherine & West’s residential penthouse apartments, contact Raquel Gush on 011 465 5362 or 082 651 8977. Prices from R9,485 million. Property developers: Barrow Properties. Katherine & West  

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Text: Jocelyn Warrington
Photographs: Elsa Young  

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