Green Market Square Competition: Time, Light, Water

Otto Mentzel in his reminiscences of life at the Cape during the perod 1732 to 1740 recalls that there were two reservoirs in use by this time connected by wooden pipes. The upper-most was in the vicinity of the present day tennis courts off Hof street and the other above today's Caledon Square. From here pipes took water to the Castle as far as the Watergate and down to the Jetty to serve ships in the bay. Lines from the reservoir also led to two fountains on the Grand Parade "where water spouts from four small pipes day and night" and to a fountain on Green Market Square. Interestingly Mentzel notes that the fountain on Green Market Square "only works when the reservoir overflows". This water source therefore was probably only a fountain during periocls of high water table and at other times functioned again as a well... 
Green Market Square Competition Brief, 2009

Water is life's matter and matrix, mother and medium. There is no life without water.

Albert Szent-Gyorgyi,  193737


Throughout history water has played an important role in the settlement of people everywhere. The first war in the Cape of Good Hope was fought over this precious resource, and today we are becoming increasingly more aware of the fact that fresh water is a gift to be cherished and used sparingly. In commemoration of the 300 years since Green Market Square was first used as a public square the idea is to create a sculpture that celebrates the elements in an elegant and abstract way, a sculpture that is timeless and that allures the public to interact and question the meaning of water and public space.

The three themes in the design are that of time, light and history, all of these have played a vital role in the development and character of the square.


Water is the most important element in the design and it is celebrated in several ways. The sculpture is constructed as a granite plinth with two tall sheets of glass shooting into the sky, celebrating in a majestic way the material and height of Table Mountain as the backdrop. The concept is that people would be able to see, touch and drink the water. Water is run between the two sheets of glass and will spill over etched glass onto the smooth plinth before it disappears into a shadow line at the base of the sculpture. A stainless steel drinking fountain will be carefully crafted into the side of sculpture, opening only when activated. This will allow the onlooker to question and experience the sculpture in a more interactive manner.


Green Market was originally built in the late 1600’s. It started out as the town’s first market, and over the years have seen many traders come and go. The Old Town House stands on the north-facing edge of Green Market square and was built in the 1755, it is to form the backdrop to the sculpture.

The historical themes of the square are rich and diverse. The history and progress is projected in the sculpture as etched skylines onto transparent glass panes that will extend into the sky. Looking through the glass the onlooker will be able to see the façade of the Old Townhouse with shadow of the skylines in the foreground. The skylines represent the development around the square over the last 300 years. As time progresses new skylines can be etched onto the sculpture, allowing it to become richer over the years to come.


Light is used in the sculpture to highlight the special qualities of water and glass, and change from daytime to night time. It also signifies the quality of city lights. Together with the calming and mesmerizing effect of the water, the sculpture promises to be a dramatic addition to the square that enhances the onlookers’ experience of life and beautiful buildings on the square.

Project Status: Conceptual
Project Type: Competitions