Stark Studios

PHOTOS: Dook | PRODUCTION: Annemarie Meintjes & Klara van Wyngaarden | WORDS: Taryn Lamberti

Behind the quiet façade of Stark Studios in Randburg is the expansive workplace of the team that produces Binneland Sub Judice.

At first glance it’s hard to believe that behind the quiet façade of Stark Studios in Fontainebleau, Randburg, is the expansive workplace of the 150-strong team that produces the M-Net television series Binneland Sub Judice.

The close relationship between the client and Cape Town architect Joeke Monteiro lead to the successful interpretation of a complex brief – to combine very specific operational and technical requirements with an environment conducive to creativity.

State-of-the-art design

Built by Bastion Construction, the result is state-of-the-art, high-definition recording studios in an inspiring, relaxed setting.

In the reception area, three solid, well-worn mine beams (from Laurie Owen Interiors) set the tone for the rest of the interior. The double-storey building centres around a courtyard and features double-volume areas in reception as well as outside the two recording studios. Service cores with coffee stations are strategically positioned for easy access.

Other facilities include a 50-seat auditorium, production control rooms, edit suites, a hair and make-up salon, a scriptwriters’ studio, wardrobe and art departments, as well as dressing rooms for actors. The boardroom, lounge and dining areas all lead onto a doublevolume covered patio that overlooks a rectangular water feature, beyond which lies the Patrick Watson-designed garden.

The building has a unique aesthetic that blends an earthy vernacular with contemporary simplicity and understatement. A balanced play between solidity, in the form of oversized walls, and transparency, in the large expanses of glazed panels, creates a wonderful dynamic and flow, yet maintains a sense of intimacy and definition of space. 

Attention to the details

This style was continued in the décor and furniture (designed by the client, architect and Cape Town interior decorator Andrea Graff). The finest details have been paid attention to: there are custom-made Pierre Cronje sofas and tables, a striking four-metre-long Dokter and Misses dining table; a large mural by painter Sascha Stylianou, and Bedouin kilims from Libya.

Works by South African artists, such as painter Deborah Bell and textile designer Jenny Gifford, also give serious kudos to the interior.

It is immediately apparent that what could have been just another industrial space actually feels more like an artcollector’s inviting home.

If the muffled laughs and quiet banter of the actors and crew waiting for the next scene are anything to go by, it is clear that this workspace has a positive influence on everyone who is privileged enough to work in the building.

• Joeke Monteiro: 083 267 6636,