Four additions to the V&A Waterfront Silo District, built around the historic grain silo complex will be completed soon. All are to pursue groundbreaking sustainability opportunities.

The Silo District is a work-in-progress that began in 2011 with the construction of No.1 Silo and No.2 Silo. The Grain Silo building stood derelict since August 2002 but will be given a new lease of life as the Zeitz Museum of Contemporary Art Africa (MOCAA), to stand at the centre of a pedestrian plaza surrounded by a community of mixed-use buildings.

The relationship between the buildings is more about the quality of the public realm and creating a sense of community, and not just about each building, says Mark Noble, development manager at the V&A Waterfront.

The new projects are being worked on by a number of different architectural practices including Van Der Merwe Miszewski Architects (VDMMA), Rick Brown and Associates (RBA), Makeka Design Lab (MDL), Jacobs Parker and Heatherwick Studios.

No. 1 Silo and No. 2 Silo, completed in 2013, were catalysts for a new mixed-use urban precinct around the historical Grain Silo building.  “A minimum 4-Star Green Star SA rating is targeted for each of the four new Silo buildings while every effort will be made to achieve 5-Star or 6-Star ratings,” says Noble.

No. 1 and No. 2 Silo

No.1 Silo, which houses Allan Gray’s head office and the residential No.2 Silo, boast sustainable technologies as part of their design. The most notable of these is the high-performance double skin glazed wall and sea water cooling plant. The cooling plant draws water from the adjacent harbour basin to cool the building and reduces potable water consumption by at least 50%.

No.1 Silo achieved a 6-Star Green Star SA rating in the Design and As Built categories – the first green building in South Africa to achieve this milestone.

Jaco Kemp from Arup, the sustainability consultant on the project, says the Design rating set the tone at conceptual stage: “All our creative ideas, life-cycle costing, detailed analysis and debates about what was best for the project went into the Design rating.”

The As Built rating requires constant auditing of the sustainable technologies, so commissioning the building systems required a great deal of work. The main contractor, WBHO, was fully committed, which Kemp believes contributed significantly to the rating.

Extra credits were also gained for the recycled steel content and provision for retrofitting a grey water system at a later date. Ultimately, the points they received for innovation – such as the double-skin facade, under-floor displacement ventilation system and sea water cooling plant – gained them their 6-Star accolade.

No. 2 Silo achieved a 4-Star rating for Design under the multi-unit residential tool. It incorporates solar water heaters and heat pumps. Water and energy monitoring allows residents to check and modify their consumption.

No. 3 and No. 4 Silo

The building will consist of mixed retail on the ground floor level and residential apartments above a Virgin Classic gym says architect Mokena Makeka of MDL. The design concept for No. 3 Silo and No. 4 Silo consists of three distinct towers unified by the lightweight glassy vertical transportation cores.

Dividing the buildings into three towers increases the surface area of the facade and allows for maximum views, correct orientation, influx of light and ventilation, as well as enables unique design features for each residential unit in No. 3 Silo.

Both the retail and gym tenants will be obliged to attain a GBCSA Interior rating. “We have specific clauses in our precinct leases to ensure that tenants buy into the overall ethos of achieving sustainable excellence,” says Noble.

Kemp says compared to No. 2 Silo, they are trying to increase energy efficiency in the HVAC and the facade design. The team is collaborating with the GBCSA to develop a new Green Star SA mixed-use tool.

No. 5 and No. 6 Silo

No. 5 Silo, a 13 500m2 office building with over 1000m2 of ground floor retail, will serve multiple tenants of varying sizes. The design, by VDMMA in association with Jacobs Parker, is organised around a central street accessible to the public and tenants.

“We are looking at passive design, sustainable materials as well as water and energy efficiency options,” Rubidge says. The project will go for an As Built rating and forego the Design rating.

No. 6 Silo will be developed as a mid-range internationally branded hotel due for completion in early 2017. Tying in with the MyCiTi public transport and pedestrian routes, this building will have easy access to the City and contribute to Cape Town’s tourism sector. This building will also be rated under the pilot mixed use tool along with No. 3 and No. 4 Silo.

The full feature appears in the October-November 2014 issue.