Generation Z - Casper 87

Inside the living spaces of Generation Z

The housing landscape is playing catchup with its young, new inhabitants, but what do they want?

Meeting the demands of a generational cohort whose needs are still being translated is a daunting task. According to UCT’s Graduate School of Business, “it’s estimated that there are more than 2 billion of Gen Z worldwide. In South Africa, a third of the population is under the age of 21.” That’s a significant portion of youth whose needs are vastly different from those who came before them.

Born roughly between 1995 and 2012 this is a generation of tech natives who are always switched on and their living spaces need to cater for that. They’re financially savvy, entrepreneurial, concerned with safety and woke (which, to any pre-millennials, means ethically and racially aware.)

Hi-speed connectivity, smart technology and digital access control are as basic a need as oxygen, but style also matters to these kids, they want to live in a beautifully curated environment that supports their lifestyle. So, how is the Gen Z call being answered here in SA?

In the case of Observatory’s 6 on Nansen, a premium, 98-unit mixed use development, the co-founders are both under 30 themselves (23 and 25 to be exact!) Designed for this generation… and by it, Gen Z’ers Benji Schaffer and Caspar Lee (pictured above) of Proper Living, have placed an emphasis on using interior elements that create warm, contemporary, and appealing environments.

“Some important factors that Gen Z takes into account when choosing accommodation are: accessibility, Wi-Fi speeds, innovative technology, security, a sense of community, style and values,” explains Caspar, a famous You Tuber who featured on the Forbes 30 under 30 media and marketing list and sat on a business panel with Sir Richard Branson. He adds that this generation considers if their accommodation delivers on the atmosphere they are looking for and if they are getting a good deal.

Meanwhile, in Joburg, student accommodation giant South Point, who houses over 20 000 students, has collaborated with formidable design team HK Studio on ensuring that their various communal spaces speak to this generation. For the designers, that meant using colour to enhance mood in various spaces, as well as keeping the layout flexible. “Through the use of simple, modular furniture we created interchangeable spaces which allow for the ever-evolving student world,” explains Megan Hesse of the arrangement which includes private workstations, communal desks and lounge pods, all for studying.

And then there’s Moby, in Mowbray, Cape Town – a new, mixed-use development of 120 apartments geared towards high end student and young professional living. Make Architects and Interior Studio’s Kurvin Virahsawny says their focus was on creating a space with pockets of common areas alongside private and semi-private spaces. He explains:

There’s a polarity among Gen Z’ers; they engage a lot ‘socially’, however a big portion of that engagement is behind a social media profile. On the other hand, they’re famously involved in different causes (social, political etc.) and are very keen to demonstrate that.

Like us, you may recall your own student digs or first shared apartment in an entirely different light… a hotchpotch of the furniture that nobody else wanted, nests of cables traversing the floor and a bleeping modem instead of fiber internet. Meanwhile, collaboration typically took place at the library or seated atop a crusty bean bag. Gen Z, if you’re reading this, are you ‘shook’?


WORDS: Mila Crewe-Brown
IMAGES: Supplied and photography by Sarah de Pina (South Point)
Featured Image: Caspar Lee, the 25-year-old co-founder of Proper Living