The Soweto Theatre – Seemingly effortless ingenuity

The iconic Soweto Theatre, in Jabulani Soweto is said to have changed the landscape of the area. Designed by Afritects, it has been hailed as an architectural masterpiece, and is described by the architects as a “culmination of both national and global best practices in theatre design”.

In 2012, Tension Structures won the public tender to take on the significant task of erecting the tensile fabric structure which was to double up as both a covered entrance as well as an outdoor intermission area.

By proposing an alternative concept design, Tension Structures was able to offer the architects and the client a structure which saved them a third of the cost, and omitted the bulk of the heavy steel structure which was in the initial design.

Instead, Tension Structures used cables which extended through the three story glass façade of the entrance hall and were secured above the open atrium. The position of each cable had to be predicted precisely in order to drill small holes out of the glass façade at the exact entry point of each cable.

Despite the structure’s need for a great deal of forward planning, and the complexity of the on-site tensioning of the structure, the cables fitted perfectly through the glass façade and this approach minimised the need for structural supports and opened up the entrance way.


For more information: Tension Structures | | +27 21 794 1898


by Kim O’Hanlon, B.Jrn |