The Cape Town Civic Centre is one of the most recognisable landmarks on the Mother City's skyline. The exterior façades of this long, narrow building, which serves as the headquarters of local government, has recently been refurbished and renewed - no small feat considering that it is one of the tallest in Cape Town.
The R28.8 million project was awarded to specialist contractors GVK-Siya Zama who have, over the years, been associated with high profile, landmark projects. "The Civic Centre, built in 1978, is made up of two blocks - the 26 floor high-rise Tower Block and the low-rise Podium Block," says Siya Zama site agent, Rupert Rademan. "The former accommodates the administrative offices of the municipality while the latter houses the city's management, including the Council Chamber and the Mayor's Office. We were tasked with cleaning, re-waterproofing and modernising both buildings with a new shade of paint, along with re-waterproofing the links between the buildings, installing new skylights and a few additional extras."
Winds were a major challenge
Once the building was cleaned, the team set to work preparing and painting over the original pink-brown colour with a darker shade. To carry out the work on the Tower Block, the team used rope access and cradles as this was not only more cost effective than scaffolding, given the heights involved, but also more contained.
One of the major challenges that the team encountered was high-speed winds. If these exceeded 35km per hour, work had to be halted to ensure the safety of the workers. The winds also affected the stripping and re-waterproofing of the roof of the Tower Block, as well the installation of new skylights. The crane stationed on the roof to lift materials had to be slowed or shut off completely to prevent the supplies from smashing into the building.
An additional safety measure was to remove the fibreglass sheeting which surrounded the steel sculpture atop the Podium Block as this could easily blow off during one of the Cape's notorious South-Easters. The mayor and council members' offices are located directly below the sculpture. Each office has its own courtyard, the walls of which needed to be washed, cladded and repainted - a task made difficult given the stringent security measures in place to protect the high-profile occupants of these offices. This meant that access was restricted to certain times of the day and that the work had to be well-planned and swiftly executed.
Panels can resist vandalism
At the base of the building, the crew removed the old tiling and replaced this with a Vitrex Vandal-proof Panelling System comprised of vitreous enamelled steel to withstand any acts of vandalism from spray-painting to scraping. The links between the Podium and Tower Blocks as well as the link from the Civic Centre to the Artscape Theatre were all re-waterproofed. This entailed meticulously removing the pavers and art sculptures, along with the old waterproofing, applying new waterproofing and replacing the pavers in precisely the same patterns as previously.
The sculptures which stood atop some of the pavers were taken apart and templates were taken of the bases so that they could be rebuilt in their original places. "The Civic Centre is of one Cape Town's most iconic buildings. We feel incredibly proud to have been part of making her look good again," Rademan concludes. All work on the 11-month project is due to be completed in June 2012.
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