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Oct 8, 2017 | Property News

Showtime at the Silos

Back in 2014, the art and design worlds resounded with the news that the V&A Waterfront had appointed famed British designer Thomas Heatherwick to reimagine its Grain Silo Complex, with architecture inspired by its historical character. Since its reveal, the development has continued to capture the imaginations of aficionados across disciplines and industries. The collection of seven world-class mixed-use buildings, including the Zeitz Museum of Contemporary Art Africa (Zeitz MOCAA), will facilitate the emergence of a new cultural precinct in what was previously an industrial zone. This was the perfect catalyst for the Silo District, the most ambitious self-funded project by the V&A Waterfront and its owners – Growthpoint Properties and the Public Investment Corporation (PIC) – since the Waterfront’s inception.

A master plan

What does it take to convert a heavily industrial, non-pedestrian area of the V&A Waterfront into one of Africa’s most prestigious cultural hubs? As early as 2010, V&A Waterfront CEO David Green had identified the location and instigated a workshop to conceptualise the area. The plan was to connect the Waterfront to the city once more and meet the need for office and residential space. When Growthpoint and the Government Employees Pension Fund – through the PIC – decided to provide funding, the idea of a new kind of African museum took hold.

The inner circle

The development of the six buildings framing the Zeitz MOCAA was designed to bring people into an area of the Waterfront that was largely inaccessible, and was laid out to show off the best angles of the museum. “The buildings had to be mixed-use to bring activity from day into night and weekends. We didn’t want it to be a purely commercial district that dies on evenings and weekends,” says Mark Noble, development manager for the Silo precinct. And so began the personification of the six surrounding buildings, each with a purpose and personality, and all sharing a common industrial aesthetic. Important in the district was that the architecture enables the use of public space, creating walkways and paths for visitors and office workers to use, according to Mark. They’re also seemingly integrated in that it can be tricky to tell where one ends and the other begins. This is noteworthy, as a different design team conceptualised each building, showing how fruitful a shared vision and collaboration can be.


With 18 000m2 triple A-grade office space, No 1 Silo was the first to be built and was completed in June 2013, with anchor tenant Allan Gray moving in shortly afterwards. It was designed by VDMMA and Rick Brown & Associates Architects, and set a new standard for sustainable architecture across the continent. No 1 Silo was the first building in the Western Cape to be awarded a six-star Green rating by the Green Building Council of SA (GBCSA) and was the first six-star rating of commercial office space on such a scale in South Africa. Unique features include sea-water harvesting to cool and heat the building, and a triple-glazed facade with automatic controlled blinds to reduce heat and sun glare, which allows for better views and more natural light.


No 2 Silo is the first completed residential building in the district, with 31 apartments ranging from 70m2 to 157m2. These are on the market for about R8 million for a one-bedroom apartment and about R10 million for two bedrooms. Features include floor-to-ceiling glass facades and wraparound balconies to take advantage of the views. VDMMA and Rick Brown & Associates Architects completed the seven-storey build. It achieved a four-star Green rating from the GBCSA for its external solar shading, sea-water cooling system, centralised solar-heated hot-water system, high-performance thermal and acoustic insulated glass, low-energy lighting, water-efficient showers and toilets, energy-and water-efficient kitchen appliances, and a website allowing homeowners to track and manage their water and energy consumption. The rooftop is the building’s communal area with a water-wise garden, braai facility and ozonated swimming pool.


Designed by VDMMA and Makeka Design Lab, the third development to be built is a mixed-use, mainly residential apartment block. The 79 spaces range in price from R4.5 million for a one-bedroom unit to about R25 million for a penthouse. A distinct feature of No 3 Silo is its exposed steelwork with a 45-degree angled scaffold running down the middle. Each apartment has a hanging balcony garden. The district’s green shop, Opus Studio, is based here. “We were at The Foundry, a hub for young and upcoming artists, in Woodstock for five years. Woodstock, however, is destination-orientated with not much foot traffic,” says Marissa Pretorius, owner of Opus Studio. “The new Silo District, focused around the Zeitz MOCAA, offers a larger footprint, premium clientele and international exposure. It allows us to really push our brand and business.”


Virgin Active’s bespoke Silo Collection Club in No 4 Silo is “one of world’s best health clubs”, as Virgin Group founder Richard Branson describes it. The 3 800m2 luxury venue has been built to meet a four-star Interior Green Building SA rating, a new sustainability tool from the GBCSA that’s geared towards interior assessments. The club is as modern as it gets thanks to its state-of-the-art equipment. It doesn’t compromise on luxury and wellbeing, with a concierge service, shoeshine service, Wi-Fi, suspension yoga, a fully equipped boardroom and a health café. It’s also the base for various medical professionals. The building was designed by VDMMA and Makeka Design Lab, and is home to two new eateries, Si and The Yard.


VDMMA and Jacobs Parker designed No 5 Silo, the second building in the Silo District to achieve a six-star Green rating from the GBCSA. PricewaterhouseCoopers is the main tenant of the commercial space. Like No 1 Silo, the building has a high-performance facade that ensures optimal use of natural light as well as seawater harvesting from the cold Atlantic to heat and cool itself. The ground level is the retail home to some of Cape Town’s most sought-after brands: the GUILD Group, fashion designer Kat van Duinen and jeweller Kirsten Goss. “Our new space – GUILD – comprises the GUILD Store, GUILD Studio and Southern Guild gallery, and so allows us to develop and showcase design at different levels,” says Trevyn McGowan, co-founder of the GUILD Group. “It’s an evolution of the work we’ve been doing to grow the local design industry over the past nine years with Southern Guild.”


Home to Carlson Rezidor’s first Radisson Red hotel concept, the 235-room establishment has been brought to life by Design Space Africa and Peerutin Architects. It straddles the three- to four-star hospitality rating. The new Radisson Red features work by South African artist Cameron Platter and is tech and design savvy, with a focus on creating an experience that is truly guest-centric. The hotel’s offering includes paperless check-in and a 24/7 deli and bar, OUIBar + KTCHN, which gives visitors access to Cape Town’s craft food scene. Its appeal is that it is not only geared towards international business travellers but is also affordable for locals who want to be based at the Waterfront.

Take it easy

After 18 months of rigorous tech development and beta testing, South Africa’s new property marketplace,, launched last month. It’s an online space for buyers to meet sellers, and sellers to meet buyers. The team assists throughout the process (in fact, they say you don’t have to do anything) and they don’t believe that commission should dilute a property investment. An online bidding system allows you to put in your offer 24/7, plus there are 3D floor plans, drone footage and the ability to view information about properties sold in your area. Most Cape Town residents can already start buying and selling via the marketplace – although the rest of South Africa will have to wait a little while!

Winning nature

A recent report by AfrAsia Bank and New World Wealth, which rates lifestyle estates across South Africa according to factors such as space, security and scenery, has placed Steyn City in second place. This Sandton estate was rated so highly in part due to its Jack Nicklaus-designed golf course, world-class equestrian centre and hectares of landscaped parklands. The report also likens Steyn City’s communal areas to global landmarks such as Richmond Park and Hampstead Heath in London. According to the report: “Local residents can gather here over weekends and after work to meet, talk and walk their dogs. The lifestyle resort is also child friendly, with walking paths and underpasses under all the roads.” Additional facilities include outdoor gyms, kilometres of tracks for running, cycling and horse riding, kiddies’ play nodes, a skate park, an award-winning clubhouse, a gym, tennis courts and a resort pool. All this leads to a sound financial opportunity – house prices have increased significantly since its launch and sales grew by 20% in 2017 – as well as an investment in a quality lifestyle.

Text: Genevieve Putter, Bridget McNulty, supplied
Photographs: Heatherwick Studio, supplied

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