Portside Cape Town

The iconic Portside building is a joint development between First Rand Bank and Old Mutual, situated in Cape Town’s CBD and emerging financial district. 


  • Cape Town, Western Cape, South Africa


  • First Rand Bank and Old Mutual

Project Value

  • ZAR 1.6 billion

Project Status

  • Completed in 2013


  • 5 Star Green Star SA rating
Portside towers at 139m tall, it comprises of basement parking, public interface at ground level, podium parking and 20 floors of office space. The design was inspired by international trends yielding a rectilinear form with a sense of timelessness and expression of structure.
Office Space
20 floors 20 floors
Total Floors
32 32
Bicycle racks
227 227


The extremely fast tracked and complex nature of the project presented major construction challenges. A fast-tracked construction programme was implemented and this resulted in the team delivering majority of the project within 34 months.

In conjunction with the clients’ requirements for distinct building addresses, this resulted in a design that spurred on a high street level activation whilst addressing the urban functional requirements. The building site is also situated within the central city urban conversation area, thus another crucial design consideration was the location’s historical context and urban ecology.

To curb the local seismic design requirements and the buildings mass and shape, the design and detailing team undertook an in-depth seismic analysis which resulted in a combination of reinforced concrete core and shear wall structures that afford the building its structural stability.

Our approach and services

WSP in Africa provided the structural engineering design. Our services we provided included:

  • Preliminary and detailed civil and structural design
  • Structural and civil tender and construction documentation
  • Full time construction monitoring
  • The entire primary structural system comprises of reinforced concrete as the main construction material due to its versatility, strength properties, cost effectiveness and propensity to facilitate the construction programme.

In order to meet time constraints the construction of reinforced concrete superstructure commenced in two primary areas:

  • The tower block portion surrounding the primary cores that extend the full height of the building comprising the office space.
  • The podium area which extends approximately a quarter of the building height comprising of largely parking areas.
  • The design team’s commitment to sustainability resulted in several sustainability measures being taken regarding the reinforced concrete specifications – including use of a high percentage of cement replacement fines in the concrete mix designs and the prerequisite of the reinforcing steel to be manufactured from at least 90% recycled content. Thus a 46% cement replacement with industrial waste products was achieved across all concrete use.

The building envelope is clad fully in a fully glazed curtain wall façade to capitalise on the extraordinary views of the city, and to maintain an optimally comfortable internal working environment by efficient integration of the façade with the HVAC and lighting systems.

To ensure the highest quality design, we sought advice from our New York office with the aim of capitalising on their expertise in high-rise buildings.