Redesigning a Cape Town landmark

7 April 2014

Not one but three designs caught the eye of judges in the competition to redesign the façade of the landmark Naspers Centre, head office of Media 24, Africa’s most successful media company.

Media24 chief executive Esmare Weideman named the winners at a function on the building’s roof on Friday night. While 94 designs were received, none met all the criteria set in the design competition, which sought concept ideas to reimagine and rejuvenate the iconic building, once the tallest skyscraper in the Mother City. Most fell short on the cost criteria. The company has set aside R15-million to complete the project.

The Naspers Centre, located on Cape Town’s foreshore, still has a commanding presence, looking out across the harbour and Table Bay, as well as inland towards Table Mountain.

“Some of the entries truly reimagined the iconic Naspers Centre, so even though there wasn’t a clear winner we decided to split the [R320 000] prize money equally between the top three entries as recognition of their artistic contribution,” Weideman said.

The three companies are, in no particular order:

  • Tsai Design Studio, whose design “Urban Sculpture” imagined a folded sheath wrapped around the building, with a prominent media wall facing Walter Sisulu Avenue.
  • MLB Architects, whose design “Reimagining an Icon” used glass, mesh and green planting to create an entirely new silhouette for the building.
  • DBM Architects, whose design “Roots” imagined tangled roots reaching up the full height of the building, in reference to Media24’s 100-year history in Cape Town.

Entries were judged by two panels and were assessed against six criteria: aesthetic value, sustainability, cost, technical feasibility, buildability, as well as a reflection of the World Design Capital (WDC) ideals. Design24 is an official WDC project.

Weideman said Media24’s “implementation team” would now find the best design solution, which could include elements of the top three designs, within the “modest budget”.

Media24 is Africa’s biggest media company, with interests in newspapers, magazines, digital publishing, printing, distribution, book publishing and ecommerce. In August 2000, Media24 – the former Nasmedia – became an independent company. Its majority shareholder is Naspers, a multinational group of media and ecommerce platforms.

SAinfo reporter