Complex construction and renovation of the Cape Quarter extension
The extension to Cape Quarter sets the trend in environmentally considerate lifestyle shopping developments

The much anticipated second phase of the unique Cape Quarter lifestyle centre, The Square, which is situated in Cape Town’s historic De Waterkant, bordered by Somerset Road, Dixon, Jarvis and Napier streets, is complete and open for trading, after a challenging construction process that took 28 months to complete.

The Square, which is an open-air piazza with a quaint village square atmosphere and layout of stores that complement the lifestyle shopping experience, is a seamless marriage of old and new architecture, recycling materials from yesteryear and introducing the best of contemporary design.

With a total of ten levels, embracing an incredible mix of retail, office, lifestyle and self catering apartments – the centre reflects a diversity of space that is in keeping with the trend towards mixed use developments.

Kevin Dore, director of R&N Master Builders, the firm involved in the redevelopment of the original Cape Quarter and the extension for property developers Propfin, describes the scope of the project, “The new phase consists of approximately 800 parking bays, 8 800 square metres of Grade A office space and 9 700 square metres of retail space with an array of finishes that has demanded the highest levels of craftsmanship.”

Dore explains that the development of the Cape Quarter extension was complex and challenging: “The project required the marrying of 15 different building types with varying styles into one functional centre, whilst at the same time preserving the original elements of the historical structures.”

“R+N successfully faced the challenge of integrating the different skills required for fast track construction with the sensitivity needed for preserving, restoring and integrating the historical buildings.”

“A total of 20 000 m3 concrete and 1900 tons of reinforcing steel were used during the renovation and construction of the Cape Quarter ‘extension’,” says Dore. “We also had to remove 48000 m3 of excavated material.”

“The final product contains an exciting architectural mix of contemporary, Cape Malay, Colonial and Art Deco styles that are beautifully meshed together with high quality modern finishes and recycled materials from the original building that recall the quality of yesteryear.”

“We recycled five pig iron columns that were recovered from inside the Somerset Road brick columns during the demolition phase and have used them in the Piazza as structural element which form an interesting design feature. The cantilevered bridge at the entrance on Somerset Road is made from recycled steel and wood as is a beautiful yellowwood staircase found in the extension which links the old and new structures,” says Dore.

“An additional challenge faced with stunning results was retaining the original roof inside the old Capella building. This was achieved by placing precast slabs on a complex girder support structure which spanned over this building thereby creating the platform for the new level above”

Dore explains that elements of the original buildings, such as the facades on Somerset Road, have carefully been preserved and incorporated into the development. The preservation of existing features as well as the recycling of the original old materials required specialist artisans such as blacksmiths, plaster moulders, mosaicists, and carpenters for reworking the recycled timber.

The outstanding quality of the construction work is evident throughout the centre, from the Cape Quarter SPAR gourmet food store with its granite floors, to the upmarket boutique retail outlets and restaurants with beautiful attention to detail in the trimmings, to the spectacular suspension bridge and 16m high entrance area.

The Cape Quarter Square is one of the finest shopping centres in Cape Town and displays one of the best examples in South Africa of the shift towards inner city living and CBD rejuvenation. The centre promises to appeal to a cosmopolitan mix of locals and tourists and alike.

“The Cape Quarter will benefit greatly from the increased pedestrian traffic that Green Point Stadium will bring to the area during the 2010 Soccer World Cup. But regardless of this, I still believe this will become one of the most successful and desirable retail, commercial and lifestyle destination centres in Cape Town,” says Dore.

As the Cape Quarter project draws to a close, Dore says that R +N are very proud of having successfully completed a project of this magnitude, but remain true to their core business of adding value to the varied projects undertaken in the past. “Whether new commercial, retail or industrial projects, complex alterations and renovations, tenant fit-outs or sensitive restoration, they all remain equally important in servicing our client base,” concludes Dore.