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Monday Apr 02, 2012

Cape Convention Centre expansion 'vital for huge demand'

News last week that a trio of Cape Town architects - Piet Bakker of Stauch Vorster Architects, Anya van der Merwe of Van der Merwe Miszewski Architects and Mokena Makeka of Makeka Design Lab - had been appointed by the Cape Town International Convention Centre to work on the R690 million expansion of the CTICC drew praise from city stakeholders.

A artist's impression of the expanded R690 million CTICC project.

Cape Town Partnership managing director Bulelwa Makalima-ngewana said, "Throughout the world, convention centres rarely break even let alone raise a profit, but the CTICC is profitable and it runs at full or nearly full capacity.

"The expansion is happening because there is demand that cannot currently be accommodated. There are already about 863 bookings between now and 2020, including a 10 000 - delegate International Geological Conference in 2016."

The CTICC extension forms part of a broader plan, shared by the Western Cape government and the City of Cape Town, to create a R1.4 billion convention precinct.

The provincial government is set to regenerate the Founders' Garden, linking the centre and Artscape precincts, and the area promises to become a hub for Cape Town's business, retail, cultural and events activity.

Makalima-Ngewana says the expansion aligns perfectly with Cape Town's Central City Development Strategy and the vision for a dynamic and sustainable people and business centre.

"It's clear from the design concepts presented that the expansion is being treated with the utmost sensitivity for the natural environment (the CTICC is aiming for a six-star green rating) and the spatial and human context of the city," says Makalima-ngewana.

"Cape Town is well known for its natural beauty, but the CTICC extension concept makes the important connection between the city's floral diversity and its human diversity.

"The expansion will also serve as a flagship architectural project in the light of Cape Town's World Design Capital 2014 designation. Although work on the extension will not be completed until 2015, the progress made in implementing this bold concept and vision will certainly be showcased in a global spotlight and celebrated worldwide," says Makalima-ngewana.

Concerning the economic significance of the expansion, she says the real challenge faced by the region is to achieve inclusive and sustainable growth - and this can only happen through more effective partnerships.

"The CTICC is a tangible example of what can be achieved through partnership, and the expansion is to be welcomed. The construction phase will generate major employment opportunities, contributing economically and through skills development during this time. Since 2003, the CTICC has contributed to the creation of more than 60 000 direct and indirect jobs. The expansion is likely to increase the number of direct and indirect jobs created by the centre from around 7 000 a year to over 10 000 by 2018.

"The Cape Town International Convention Centre has been, and continues to be, a key player in raising the profile of Cape Town and the Western Cape as a leading, globally competitive business destination."

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