Thesis Thursday: Architecture of the Machine

Thesis Thursday is an architectural series showcasing the work produced by the UCT M.Arch (prof) graduates of 2013. These projects tackle a number of issues in vast contexts spread throughout Cape Town, ranging from diminutive park follies to massive desalination plants. M.Arch theses, on one hand; are infamous for exhibiting ideas that simply serve as provocative visions of infinite possibilities. On the other hand, they display imaginative approaches to somewhat enigmatic urban/social issues …… You decide.


Talia Orli Gild

This is a project where the architecture is formally governed by a process that is mechanical and systematic. Born out of the fascination of large scale engineered infrastructural projects, where the individual is absent from its initial programmatic goals. Creating an architecture that is free to explore scale and form!


It is located in Hout Bay; on the edge of the industrial sector, the informal settlement of Hangberg and the beginning the mountainous terrain of The Sentinel. The primary function of the tower is a desalination plant with the aid of sustainable energy to help power the intensive desalination process (SWEC, solar and potentially wind).

Each day the fresh water produced will be piped to two proposed reservoirs which are situated above the informal settlement of Hangberg. The plant would be able to produce 30 000 000 ℓ of potable water per day.

GraphicIn addition to  its water production, it uses the waste brine water for salt harvesting. This process happens through natural ventilation with a salt crystal residue which is then used in the industry. The potential downfall would be the fact that it is major energy consuming process, however the use of sustainable energy devices could help offset some of this.


With great infrastructure comes great responsibility, therefore the design of this infrastructure must be coupled with public activities. Building something that helps our future livelihood must be something that people can also interact with, and identify with, thereby creating a physical and emotive landmark.


This thesis is not just a desalination plant or salt harvesting plant, nor is it just another urban edge or tourist spot. It is much greater; bearing the complex hierarchy of a programme functioning as an intervention that is social, economic, environmental and iconic. It therefore cannot be reduced to its singular parts.

Final Model

Final Model