Project Details

Client: University of Cape Town
Value: R 62 m [2017]
Category: Commercial / Residential
Location: Cape Town, South Africa
Architect: GAPP Architects


The University of Cape Town chose a sloped site at the at the southern end of University Avenue to build the new 400-seat lecture theatre with state-of-the-art- art equipment. At completion, this was UCT’s largest lecture venue, and the only building on campus to achieve a Green Building Council of South Africa 4-star design rating. Sustainability, cost efficiency and a limit to traffic disruption were key factors for the Client on this project. These, together with a short construction period, were significant drivers of design decisions.

Working with the site’s topography and using gunite to stabilise slopes in combination with precast panels contributed to an increased speed of construction. Using the roof structure and sloping floor to prop the top of the retaining walls reduced the number of ground anchors required and contributed to cost savings. Being cut into the sloping embankment also limits the amount of energy required for thermal control of the auditorium. In addition, a triple volume shading planter screen and natural ventilation controlled through automatically opening windows contribute to the climate control of the reception area. The sloping site was also used in manage and control storm water by introducing a storm water swale.

Toilets use harvested rainwater for flushing. The 23 m span structural steel roof trusses of the main auditorium ensure that no obstructing roof supports restrict the capacity of the venue. The design and detailing of the trusses also ensured easy access to all land and equipment located in the ceiling space. Careful attention was paid to the acoustic requirements of the venue, which informed the choice of materials throughout. The large double-volume reception area and cafeteria provide informal spaces where study groups can meet as required. A feature stair provides access to the upper level. A further contributor to the 4-star green rating was the use of rheinzinc cladding which is well insulated, maintenance-free, fully recyclable, and has relatively low embodied carbon due to its low melting temperature.

Awards Won

ILASA Merit Award of Excellence 2017

Related Projects

Chitabe Game Lodge Okavango steel walkways


Mutual Skybridge - 4

Mutual Skybridge

Cape Town, South Africa

Nelson Mandela Bridge Proposal - 2

Nelson Mandela Bridge Proposal

Johannesburg, South Africa