Channelling Amsterdam Architecture
Rabie’s ground-breaking mixed-use development offers inspiring new ways to live, work, play and stay in the security and convenience of Century City.
It is a uniquely integrated family of buildings perfectly positioned between the buzz of Century City Square and the serenity of the new Ratanga Park.
Recently completed in mid-2021, the development consists of an 80-room hotel flanked by 122 residential apartments, overlooking three hectares of water and greenery, and three individual office buildings. Between this cluster of buildings, a sunny, sheltered central courtyard will be lined with shops and restaurants. And beneath them, two levels of parking will provide 376 secure undercover bays, offering Bridgewater residents a superb quality of life in Century City’s rapidly maturing Bridgeways precinct. The unique development was designed by Vivid Architects, with landscape architecture by the team at Planning Partners.
Vivid Architects designed Bridgewater as an entire city block, and it is very exciting to see the conceptual thinking behind the Bridgewater development coming to reality. The building acts as a wonderful interface and transition between the urban neighbourhood of Century City Square and the extraordinary natural environment of the newly re-imagined mixed use Ratanga Precinct, new park and rehabilitated waterbody. The development connects Bridgeways with the new Ratanga Park via a timber-clad footbridge and creates a defined public wharf edge to the redesigned waterway system that emulates the memory of old Amsterdam canal-side row houses and walkways. Bridgewater was designed to allow seamless connectivity and pedestrian access in, around and through the development.
The “city block” development was intentionally designed as a number of individual buildings with their own unique language and “personality” all linked and unified around an internal central public square or court. This court acts as a wonderful filter for pedestrian movement linking the many buildings of the overall Bridgeways precinct to the newly designed Ratanga Park and waterfront. The mixed-use nature of this development will ensure all day activity and life beyond the 9-5 working day. The use of tactile and warm materials was intentional to create a place for people to feel comfortable to work, live, and play. It is important when developing largely greenfield sites and expanding an urban vision not to exclude access, but rather create inclusive spaces with facility to sit and socialize. Vivid Architects wanted to expand on their clients’ vision for creating a leading urban precinct by ensuring we create a ‘neighbourhood’ that integrates with the immediate context – and a place people want to visit and stay.
There are 3 predominant buildings or typologies that make up the Bridgewater development, including 80 Hotel beds, 122 Apartments, 3 separate Office buildings with over 350 parking bays. They each play their own very important unique role in design, use, scale and materiality to address their particular position on the site. For the residential component of apartments and hotel accommodation, Vivid took clues from the timeless and recognisable design ethos of the Amsterdam canal edge row house architecture to front onto the wharf that defines the water facing elevation of the development. They interpreted this in a stripped down and contemporary manner with elegant thin façade verticality further accentuated by combining natural and painted face brick to ensure colour variation and elevational interest.
As one approaches Sable circle, we wanted a building that literally swept you around it, with its sleek flowing flush glazed façade that would speak of high-end office space with a great corporate identity and views back to Table Mountain. To offset this, they created a third building typology of Wharf style warehouse buildings that accommodates small office studios that front onto Conference Lane and form the focal corner entrance to the hotel porte cochere drop off.
As Bridgewater nears completion, we are so excited to see the sculptural quality of the varying scales of buildings and public spaces that has resulted between their placements. It is a development that offers the user and the public a warm human scale environment to work, stay, play or just simply relax and chill. Bridgewater has just been complete to promote this active hub that will be a wonderful catalyst and backdrop to future planned developments.
Bridgewater construction process was a unique experience, as any current building contract, due to the interruption of the Covid pandemic hard lockdown in March 2020. The construction status was up to 2nd floor slab in some areas, when the site was abandoned for 3 months. As such there was an agreed extension of time negotiated between client and contractor to the mutual ‘benefit’ of both parties. Through this experience, with its many challenges, the quality of the outcome was not forfeited and the end result is a project to be proud of for client, contractor, and consultants.
The entire Bridgewater construction site was built simultaneously with the new Ratanga Park, sharing a site and a main contractor, and as such the environmental impact of the build was mitigated by the rigorous and detailed re-working of the Ratanga canal system which was drained for the duration of the project. The canal system was fully rehabilitated with all major and sensitive vegetation protected or sensitively moved. This process is ongoing and will benefit the greater Cape Town as a major public facility once completed.
Bridgewater and Ratanga Park offer sensitively and managed designed public spaces and facilities, offering truly urban and natural environments side by side in a unique setting that will contribute massively to both Century City and Cape Town as a whole.
Vivid designed and specified all hard landscaping on Bridgewater as they have done for majority of their projects. They believe strongly that it is their responsibility as Architects to design not only buildings, but positive urban spaces that connect these buildings to the public realm. For this project they collaborated with Planning Partners, who designed the soft landscaping elements.
The aim here was to add value for their clients and aid them in selling or letting the commercial space. This was achieved by designing contemporary buildings and landscape that have a stylish yet timeless appeal; spaces with a sense of place that people will want to inhabit. If people want to be there, the development will almost sell itself.
The landscape design ethos for Bridgewater was fairly simple. Where people need to walk, run and move, the harder surfaces were used. Where they have designed spaces for people to sit or pause, they’re provided timber decking on the surface. The remainder are constructed planters and soft landscaping. Through the years Vivid have specified clay pavers; natural granite cobbles; granite tiles; and all varieties of hard surfaces. For this specific project, precast concrete pavers, specifically the Revelstone Jura Cobble range, provided the necessary robustness, size format, and colour variations the team were looking for in their designs and to compliment the architecture.
They had the strong idea from early on that the ground surface needed to unify the development. The brief from the client, which the team fully agreed with, was to design the buildings with separate identities within one development. The paving becomes a simply unifying carpet of cobble. However, the team mixed three colours in an intentional design mix to appear random, but be consistently random. The three shades of grey create visual interest while dealing with imperfections in the installation.
Meet the team:
Client: Rabie Property Group
Architects: Vivid Architects
Landscape Architects: Planning Partners
Quantity Surveyors: B&L Quantity Surveyors
Structural & Civil Engineers: Aurecon SA
Fire & Wet Engineer: Aurecon SA
Mechanical Engineer: WSP Group
Electrical Engineer: QDP Lighting & Electrical Design
Interior Designer: Origin Interiors
Wet Services & Lift Engineers: Eckon Consulting Engineers
Contractor: WBHO Construction
Landscape Contractors: Intebe Landscaping