• Project: Century City Square – a 4-Star Green Star architectural delight Project: Century City Square – a 4-Star Green Star architectural delight Project: Century City Square – a 4-Star Green Star architectural delight Project: Century City Square – a 4-Star Green Star architectural delight Project: Century City Square – a 4-Star Green Star architectural delight Project: Century City Square – a 4-Star Green Star architectural delight Project: Century City Square – a 4-Star Green Star architectural delight
  • Project: Century City Square – a 4-Star Green Star architectural delight Project: Century City Square – a 4-Star Green Star architectural delight Project: Century City Square – a 4-Star Green Star architectural delight Project: Century City Square – a 4-Star Green Star architectural delight Project: Century City Square – a 4-Star Green Star architectural delight Project: Century City Square – a 4-Star Green Star architectural delight Project: Century City Square – a 4-Star Green Star architectural delight

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Project: Century City Square – a 4-Star Green Star architectural delight

Online since 29.01.2017 • Filed under Project • From Volume 5 - 2017
Project: Century City Square – a 4-Star Green Star architectural delight

Century City Square is a mixed-use development in Century City, Cape Town. The square was conceptualised as the heart and soul of the Bridgeways precinct as well as instigator, influence and generator for future development of Century City.


It comprises several buildings atop a single level super basement that includes a conference centre, a hotel, commercial office space, residential apartments, a structured parking building and ‘folly’ pavilion at the open end of the square. All buildings enjoy nested parking areas in the super basement below and dedicated secure access controlled entrances at both basement and ground floor levels.

Vivid Architects were tasked with the urban design framework of this precinct. The current layout and design has recognised and reinforced the needs of the pedestrian user over vehicles, an appropriate human scale and massing of the square, the importance of existing gateways, focal points and view corridors and a full understanding of the optimum orientation and wind protection.

The architecture has employed the maximum use of glass at the ground floor plane to ensure transparency and the seamless interface between inside and out, whilst the brief has ensured that restaurants, coffee shops and the hotel’s public areas spill out onto the square to ensure that there is a constant life and energy. The scheme has also taken cognisance of the new regulations governing the disposal of storm water and, for this reason, it was an opportunity to extend the existing Century City canal system, not only to deal with the storm water, but also to give the urban square a water’s edge that will complement the hard and soft landscaping of the precinct.

Strong pedestrian connectivity

The overall precinct plan has been thoroughly interrogated to ensure strong pedestrian connectivity between this new urban environment and the existing broader Century City. Special care has been taken to encourage pedestrian movement patterns and to ensure that the pedestrian experience is predominant over that of the vehicle. Traffic calming measures have been adopted in the paving and surface treatments to ensure that the thresholds between building, square and roads are as blurred and seamless as is possible without compromising the safety and practical requirements of such a large development and the safety of the user.

All pedestrian and vehicular drop-off access to the individual buildings is via a one-way pedestrian friendly road that bisects the square. This activity of arrival, drop-off and pick-up is one of the essential ingredients in activating contemporary urban squares.

A My-Citi bus stop has been accommodated at the open end of the square to further encourage and enhance easy accessibility to the precinct for those using public transport. The defining architectural language and materials palette selected has allowed enough variation in the building aesthetic, yet ensures that there is an architectural cohesion to the scheme. The design and planning of the square has been focused to encourage and facilitate flexibility for social gatherings, outdoor functions, concerts, markets, product launches and general enjoyment of the tenants and visitors alike. This was a crucial design aspect to ensure the urban square has a life beyond office hours and is a place and venue that the public can enjoy 24/7.

The four buildings which comprise the Square

The Square is edged by four buildings of varied use activity. At the south-east end or ‘head’ of the square, sits the Century City Conference Centre and the structured parking building. The three-floor Apex office building sits directly above the conference facility, facing down the square with its building height and mass consciously designed to protect the square from the prevailing strong summer south-east winds.

The second building in the form of the 125-bedroom Century City Hotel and adjacent mixed use Matrix comprising retail showrooms, offices and apartments, makes up the south-west edge of the square. The hotel and conference centre is linked by a shared drop-off and pick-up porte cochere that makes these two buildings form a strong and protective L- shaped enclosure to the square. The third building is the Apex offices, a standalone fully glazed sculptural building that will house three restaurants at ground floor with six floors of offices above.

The square is then further defined by a free-standing walkway colonnade and the ‘impromptu’ language pavilion that floats over the square and canal and contains the open end of the square to the northwest. ‘Impromptu’ celebrates our cultural diversity and is intended as a multipurpose flexible space that can be a stage for concerts, a place to meet and relax, or as a playful and meaningful backdrop to the square. The overall architectural aesthetic is one of bold, natural and transparent materials that allow each building to develop its own personality within an overriding architectural language that speaks of contemporary longevity.

Green principles

Century City Square has been awarded a 4-Star Green Star – Custom Mixed Use Design rating by the Green Building Council of South Africa. This is the first development in the Western Cape to be awarded this Custom Mixed Use tool and only the second in the country. All the buildings have been planned around sound passive design principles to ensure a comfortable, healthy and productive working environment for their occupants. They also share an overall environmental strategy that encompasses transport, health, energy, water, and waste.

Aspects such as air quality and indoor pollutants, thermal comfort, adequate lighting and glare control, access to daylight and views, and the sound levels have all been analysed and, while energy efficient, the design still prioritises the comfort, productivity and health of the occupants.

Transport is one of the biggest contributors to greenhouse gas emissions in the world. Proximity to the My CiTi rapid transit bus service, contracted taxi and bus services, all assist in reducing car travel. There are also designated fuel-efficient bays provided in preferred locations.

The supply of treated effluent from the Potsdam Waste Water Treatment Works is available to the project and assists in reducing the consumption of potable water by the buildings’ occupants. Water metering is included in the energy monitoring system. The site is previously built on and within the urban edge and therefore assists in reducing urban sprawl. The environmental impact of the construction materials has been carefully considered and adequate space for on-site recycling of office byproducts has been allowed for. Contractors have been encouraged to make use of locally sourced materials to ensure maximum local economic benefit as well as reducing the environmental impact.

Greenhouse gas emissions are a consideration in the design of the entire project. Watercourse pollution recognises the quality and quantity of the storm water run-off into the greater canal system at Century City.

This environmental intervention assists in replenishing the local water table as well as increasing biodiversity, with the inclusion of additional bio filters added to the canal to maintain water quality. Future-proofing of the various structures is undertaken through efficient building systems that actively respond to the climate, envelope

and occupancy that vary daily and seasonally.

Century City Conference Centre

Century City Conference Centre was designed as the ‘anchor’ at the head of the new Century City Square. The activity and buzz that is generated from conferencing is an ideal type of facility to ensure a constant life and energy, as well as patrons for the new restaurants that open onto the square.

The conference centre houses four large hall venues, three of which can be combined to seat either 700 people in banquet style or just under 1 200 people in cinema style at ground floor level. A further 11 meeting rooms and an 80-seater business lounge at the first floor makes the venue exceptionally versatile.The conference centre fronts onto Century City Square, which is both a public gathering space and an extension of the centre’s facility. Conferences are encouraged to hire this space for complimentary events that can be accommodated outdoors, or just for the delegates to relax in and gather between or after sessions.

The architecture has been considered to offer maximum active street frontage on the ground and first floor, with large floating planes of natural brick façade to protect the square from the prevailing winds. The building has been designed to Greenstar principles and offers enhanced natural light deep within the double volume pre-function space of the centre. The internal volumes are connected with an elegant feature staircase in steel and timber that compliments the understated warm and timeless interior design.

Wherever possible, the design has maximised on available natural light and views, especially over the square and the canal system that surrounds the development. The interior design of the conference centre venue is a collaboration between Vivid Architects and Source IBA, the result of which is an interior that boasts a seamless synergy of contemporary design with timeless appeal, employing both a neutral palette and warm tactile materials.


The Annex offices sit directly above the hub and energy of the Century City Conference Centre and form the important, centrally located backdrop to the Urban Square. The tapered perspective of the square firmly focuses on this important office space that will enjoy great views over the entire square and Table Bay in the background.

The building tapers to a sheer glass façade that is a significant beacon and focal point of the entrance to the precinct when approaching from the Energy lane, a very important pedestrian walkway link that connects back to the Century City across Century City Boulevard. The architectural aesthetic of the Annex is one of understated classic elegance with its articulated light face brick façade, punctured by long vertical view windows or sheer glass focal corners that work in unison with the adjacent hotel design to form an L-shaped building to enclose the square.


The Apex sits proudly as the ‘suit + tie’ or urban high rise building as the landmark in the square. The bold elliptical form is dressed with two sheer skins of patterned, flush glazed glass that form a dynamic exciting façade. The user enjoys 360º views of Century City and greater Cape Town.

The 8-storey Apex boasts an elegant timeless glass façade that will offset the more natural façade materials of the adjoining buildings. The front door address is directly off the urban square and is flanked either side by the hub and vibe of the ground floor restaurant offerings. The Apex is orientated north-south and is focused directly onto the entrance into the Bridgeways precinct. This narrow elegant feature is celebrated with full height glass shop fronts that open out onto private balconies that are shaded by sun control louvers to give depth and animation to this important façade. An elegant timber restaurant deck floats over the canal, greeting visitors on their approach to the square that immediately sets the theme and an atmosphere conducive to meet and socialise.


The Matrix concept is based on the narrative that every city has a mix of old and new buildings that happily and seamlessly co-exist side by side. Old offsets the new. The Matrix has been conceived as that old warehouse building that already exists. In line with the adjacent new contemporary buildings that form Century City Square, it has been refurbished and given a new landmark life. The architecture of the Matrix speaks of an industrial warehouse era and aesthetic. Strong robust face brick facades with floor-to-floor window treatment and natural materials interfaces with the needs of an efficient practical and sophisticated office space.

The Matrix offers something different – different in its architectural aesthetic, different in its ability to provide flexible space and different in its interior look and feel. The interior concept is unique as a Century City offering in that users will be encouraged to follow the theme adopted for the public areas of the Matrix building.

It is the intention, wherever possible, to limit the use of traditional office ceilings, thereby exposing the services and the off-shutter concrete soffits. All the windows and doors are tall, elegantly framed aluminium sections that enhance the feeling of office height and volume to maximise on the great views and natural daylight. Internal elements of white pointed red face brick are offset against white plastered walls and natural reclaimed looking timber cladding to ensure a warm natural eclectic feel.

The parking building

The challenge with any mixed-use precinct is how to deal with the pressures and requirements for sufficient parking. Century City has a very high water table and so it is not practical or viable to construct more than one underground parking basement. That, coupled with the urban design concept of a pedestrian friendly and active ground floor plane around the base of all the buildings, meant the only other option available was to design and build a freestanding parking structure with a unique character and presence of its own.

As with the cost constraints of any parking building, the architects had to find a cost-effective design concept solution to dress up the facades to ensure it shielded the cars and the fluorescent strip lighting to the concrete soffits from external view, yet allowed enough cross ventilation to obviate costly services such as sprinklers and mechanical ventilation. This was achieved through applying three varying shades of CNC cut aluminium panels in a random format to all visible facades. The play of light during the day, or backlit effect at night, gives this building a wonderful playful animated façade that has a life of its own.

Vivid Architects

T +27 (0)21 526 1500

E office@vividarchitects.co.za

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