Dramatic Skyline Change of the Day: Cape Town May Grow Up

The city's building height restrictions are under review.

Image
Reuters

Earlier this month, Cape Town released a draft of its new Tall Buildings Policy. The new plan, in development since 2008, aims to promote "responsible and sustainable growth," according to city Alderman Belinda Walker. Cape Town has long had something of a tall buildings phobia. Right now, the city's core is height-restricted - city officials worry that tall buildings will block mountain views and create a city that's inhospitable to tourists.

This new plan doesn't do away with height restrictions exactly. Rather, it lays out a philosophy for where tall buildings should and shouldn't be allowed. Among the proposed regulations:

  • Tall buildings should be built along transport corridors and in close proximity to parks.
  • Views of the Table Mountains should be preserved.
  • Each district should release a "spatial development plan" that identifies particular areas that are suitable for mixed use and taller buildings.
  • A rather stringent requirement that "all tall buildings must improve quality," and "produce greater benefits than costs to the quality of the public realm."

The plan also lays out what a tall buildings should look like. Namely:

The base must support the pedestrian/public realm; the middle shaft should minimise shadows and increase sky views from the street; and the top section should be sculpted to enhance the skyline character of the city.

Urbanists hope this will increase the city's density, but it's not yet clear what the final plan will look like. A blogger for the blog Future CapeTown writes:

The main problem with Cape Town is its conservative mind set ... to play in the big league, the city needs to think big - especially when it comes to development. Cape Town needs to enhance and develop its urban nodes with the focus on attracting businesses.

 

About the Author

  • Amanda Erickson is a former senior associate editor at CityLab.