Cape Argus: City architects’ CTICC design a winner


The building, with all its glass windows, will glow at night. The double helix inspired roof design, as well as the tower block raised up on concrete legs, are both visible in this image.

This article was recently published in the Weekend Argus(Saturday Edition). It does not reflect the opinions of KUBE architecture. We thought it better to keep them to ourselves. If you’ve got something to say please do.

“Three Capetonians took top honours with their dramatic design for the new Cape Town International Convention Centre building, beating 19 design teams, comprising more than 30 local and international architects.The winning team, made up of architects Piet Bakker, Anya van der Merwe and Mokena Makeka, have been responsible for a number of landmark buildings in Cape Town, including CTICC 1. 

And they put their successful bid down to the fact that, when considering their design they looked for things that set Cape Town apart.

It was the Cape floral kingdom, the smallest and most diverse floral kingdom in the world, to which they turned for inspiration.

Using the number of plant species (6 210), then adding one to represent the human element of people who would use the facility, they came up with a genetic code that would be used throughout the building.

Van der Merwe explained that the roof, a long, curved “ribbon” mimicking the shape of a DNA helix, was designed to be looked down on, as many buildings in the area would overlook it.


This artist’s impression shows how the new building will link to the old CTICC building via a glass bridge on the first floor. The building itself was “a series of parts”, rather than one “monolithic” building, Makeka said.

A pattern of blocks, which look like genetic markers, will be used throughout the building on walls as well as the furnishings.

Makeka said this pattern could even be lit up on the facade to convey the conference going on inside.

These details would create an educational element, and turn the space into a “living art gallery”.

The tower block, which will house a mix of office and hotel space, is raised from the ground on dramatic stilts. Makeka said the tower would not be taller than the nearby Naspers building, indicating a “sensitive” design approach, while ensuring the building remained iconic.


An inside view of the new building shows the long escalator, the building’s lobby and the DNA sequence patterns on the walls.

Inside, the building is light and airy, using a lot of glass. A foyer connects all the parts of the double-volume space, while a “long, languid escalator” snakes all the way to the top.

Two exhibition halls are “stacked” on top of one another on the two floors, while other spaces enjoy views right over the highway and to the harbour, thanks to the large, glazed windows.

Van der Merwe said the two convention centre buildings needed to operate “seamlessly and separately”, so would be linked by an underground service tunnel, as well as a glass bridge on the first level.

“It is important that citizens can see inside this building and feel it belongs to them as much as to the Norwegians holding their conference inside it,” Van der Merwe explained.

CTICC chief executive officer Rashid Toefy said the building was likely to be completed in mid-2015. They were expecting it to take about a year to translate the architects’ ideas from concept to design, and that a 24-to-26-month building period was envisaged.

He said the three Capetonians’ design had stood “head and shoulders” above the others on the shortlist of five.

The budget for the building is R690 million. When it is complete, the CTICC is expected to employ around 10 000 people, significantly more than the 7 870 employed in 2010/11.

The first CTICC cost R500m, and has made a R16.8 billion contribution to the economy since then, Toefy added”.

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