Cape Town to get ‘green’ office tower

FirstRand Bank CEO Sizwe Nxasana, Western Cape Premier Helen Zille and Old Mutual Properties' Ben Kodisang at the ground-breaking ceremony of the environmentally friendly Portside Building in Cape Town, 12 August 2011 (Photo: First National Bank)

The Cape Town city skyline will soon feature a stunning new addition in the form of the impressive Portside Building – a four green-star rated skyscraper being built as a joint initiative between FirstRand Bank and Old Mutual.

Designed jointly by DHK and Louis Carol Architects, the new Portside Building comprises a full city block between Buitengracht, Hans Strydom, Bree and Mechau streets, and capitalises on the stunning views of Table Mountain and the Atlantic Ocean while complementing the beauty of the city.

The project will have office space of over 52 000m² as well as 1 200m² of banking and retail area with easy access from all sides on the ground level.

It will become the provincial headquarters for the three divisions of FirstRand Bank, namely First National Bank, Rand Merchant Bank and Wesbank, and also have a general office component that will be leased out.

Promoting Cape Town’s reputation

Speaking at the ground-breaking ceremony last week, Western Cape Premier Helen Zille lauded the two companies for their investment and commitment to economic growth in the Western Cape.

“The new Portside Building in Cape Town will help promote the city’s reputation as a thriving financial hub and we are hopeful that it will serve as a catalyst for similar buildings to be added to the city’s skyline in the future,” she said.

“The building will also complement our government’s Cape Town Central Regeneration Programme, which aims to transform the central city into a thriving centre of productivity, connectivity, innovation, social cohesion and environmental sustainability.”

Speaking at the ground breaking ceremony of the construction of the building, FirstRand CEO Sizwe Nxasana explained that the banking group considered Portside to be far more than merely another city building.

“Our investment in Portside is an extension of our continued commitment to investing in the development of the city and region, providing sustainable economic stimulus and creating much-needed jobs in line with [the] government’s employment development and social upliftment agenda.”

Environmental and social impact

According to Old Mutual Properties’ Ben Kodisang, the visual, environmental and social impact of Portside was key to the entire design process. “Not only did the design of Portside need to enable Old Mutual and FirstRand to have two distinct business addresses in the city,” he said.

Its location in a Central City Urban Conservation Area also meant it needed to be highly sensitive to the historical and environmental character of its surroundings.

To this end, the architects were required to take into account both the current and potential future development of the city around the site of the new building and ensure that Portside will be able to create the necessary synergies with other buildings in the area.

Four green-star rating – an African first

All stakeholders agreed, from the outset, that environmental sustainability was a vital component in this design approach. Stephan Claassen, Provincial Head of FNB explained that Portside is likely to be the first high rise building in Africa to have a four green-star rating.

“We intend making Portside a benchmark of environmental sustainability in terms of both construction and building management processes, and have worked closely with the architects to ensure that it serves to raise the standards of green design,” he said.

This includes indoor environmental quality, and the reduction of energy, water consumption, waste production and management production and negative carbon emissions for tall buildings.

Kodisang confirmed this commitment and explained that the incorporation of these green building principles would be closely monitored and evaluated to ensure that Portside conforms with the City of Cape Town’s green building standards and achieves the desired four green star rating.

Both Claassen and Kodisang expressed their gratitude to the City of Cape Town for its support and assistance in making this vision a reality. “Without the close partnership of the City of Cape Town, FirstRand and Old Mutual would never have reached this historic point in realising our vision for the Portside building,” said Kodisang.

“We are immensely grateful for the encouragement and assistance the council has provided to us.”

Comments are closed.