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139m tall Skyscraper for Cape Town: Portside II




The form and massing of the building follows a traditional typology with a clearly defined base , tower shaft and articulated top. The base is comprised of a parking podium lifted up to create an appropriately scaled active pedestrian zone below and sky plaza above. Addressing the scale at the base of the building has been a key consideration and the building actively seeks to achieve contextual integration, “good fit” and pedestrian comfort. The strategy has been to create an appropriately scaled and well landscaped pedestrian zone surrounding the building. The four aspects of the design of the building’s base respond directly to the nature, character and scale of each of the surrounding streets.

This pedestrian zone interfaces directly with the public realm drawing pavements and plazas into the building where required. The base is scaled to provide definition and support to the existing adjacent streets and city fabric and is characterised by its human scale, street level activation and permeability.

The plan of the shaft of the tower is determined by the operational requirements of the First Rand floor plates of minimum usable 2100m2. This stepped profile is also designed to mitigate the effects of the prevailing winds as well to create an impression of slenderness and elegance. Recesses are also created at key points to further accentuate the stepped profile and provide shadow lines.

The tower is located towards the north corner to minimise the effects of the shadows on surrounding buildings as far as possible. It also provides the opportunity to bring the main portion of the tower to ground on the corner of Hans Strydom and Buitengracht, in order to give vertical expression to a key public space and arterial intersection. The summit of the tower is stepped, mirroring the articulation of the shaft in order to create a distinctive pleasing profile and contribution to the city’s skyline.

Portside will be the first significant high-rise in Cape Town since Safmarine House in 1993. Whilst deemed by the relevant authorities to be an appropriate site for a tall building, at 139 meters the new building is marginally lower than the first approved tower which was approved at 147,6 meters above mean sea level (inclusive of ‘features’). Portside is intended to ‘key into’ into an existing and emerging cluster of tall buildings in this precinct. The proposed height is in keeping with the precinct in which Portside resides and is consistent with Draft City policy.

Fundamentally the form and articulation of the tower is intended to provided a significant, appropriately scaled and pleasing addition to the city skyline.
The scheme is a financially structured to cater for two separate corporate sectional title owners in a tower with an anticipated office rentable area of 52500m2 GLA and an additional 2400m2 GLA of retail and Bank Branch. Parking is located in two levels of basement below ground and six levels of structured parking above in order to liberate the ground floor plane for access, commercial and retail purposes and provide street level activation keyed into a public realm and landscaping design.

The parking podium above ground is designed to minimize the blank utilitarian nature of normal parking garages and the architects are investigating the creation of a planted green wall for the Buitengracht and Bree Street facades in line with the city’s greening strategy for this corridor to soften the city edge in line with green building principles. This intervention will be more thoroughly addressed in the design stage along with the landscape architects.