Raising Harbour Arch
A farsighted feat that holds the future of the city in thought, Harbour Arch is Bentel Associates International’s dynamic new development at the entryway of Cape Town’s CBD, which has won an array of awards, including Mixed-Use Architecture for South Africa at the African and Arabian Property Awards. As a work in progress that guarantees to improve modern urban living, the first of six towers to form part of the precinct is only but a hint at what is to come.
To fulfil the goal of creating a transformative addition to the Foreshore District in Cape Town, a world class mixed-use development was envisioned by Bentel Associates for Amdec Group. With the goal of being contemporary, urban, and pedestrian friendly, the development follows a phased process which, once complete, will total 200 000 m² made up of functional areas and six mixed-use buildings. Bringing each phase together, the precinct stands as the gateway into Cape Town where people can live, work, and socialise, accommodating both locals and tourists due to its close proximity to some of the city’s best attractions.
At the city’s gates
The site is located at the joining point between the N1 and N2 freeways that lead into the CBD. Its position makes the precinct a gateway to the bustling streets, offering the opportunity to become a welcoming landmark, but due to the nature of the location, the task comes with particular urban design guidelines. Specifications arose regarding architectural elements that need to go down to the ground floor and setbacks on the ground floor layout to create public space. As a solution to these, an ingenious plan of action produced a 7-storey plinth on which each mixed-use tower would stand, with an eighth floor housing a central park.
Within the first to seventh floors, a structured parking lot offers cyclical spaces for the whole development, made to flow easily with ramps in and out of the structure which link to the existing road structure of the precinct. The pedestrian interface on an urban scale is of the highest importance, which inspired the inclusion of retail facilities and restaurants on the ground floor surrounding a public piazza. This piazza becomes a convergence space for all the pedestrian routes crossing the site. Three streets dissect the site and ground floor of the building in an east-west direction; Martin Hammerschlag Way, Louis Gardner Street, and Jack Craig Street. The resulting active edge along the streets promotes the urban environment to be used to its fullest potential, encouraging a pedestrian culture through the ease of access.
In addition to the immediate service this precinct provides to the city, the design’s consideration extends to the future of the city and its people, too. With a focus on sustainability and energy conservation, double glazing on the building envelope and special performance glass on the façades cater to high levels of solar insolation and heightened noise from the neighbouring freeways’ traffic. A Building Management System (BMS) also monitors and optimises water and electricity usage, along with the assistance of an HVAC plant with a chilled water ring main. Despite its multi-use appeal and ongoing development that lies ahead, the precinct maintains a clean and sophisticated appearance. The simplicity of the white and blue façade, and neat geometrical lines and shapes reveal that diverse doesn’t have to be complicated. As the project continues to develop, an impactful contribution to urban living is certainly on the rise.