In June 2021, the Rubik building will open its doors to the public. Public, in this case, means the opulent few who will either work within the "premium" office space of the building or reside in the plush apartments and penthouses. For the sake of context, apartment prices start from R2.4 million (around USD 166,508.40 as at publication). The rest of us will have to be content with brief visits to the high-end retail shops for window shopping and quick scans through menus in restaurants that demand a full month's earnings for a single meal. In short, the Rubik is not being built for the generality of the masses.
The Rubik building, much like its inspiration - the Rubik Cube, will be a puzzle. From one perspective, it will be a South African swan song - a symbol of the modern economy the country has built. From another, the Rubik will represent the growing disparity between the rich and the poor in the young African country. While the Rubik cube is generally solved by a solution that works for all sides, South Africa's Rubik is a win for one side: the upper class. Be that as it may, the Rubik will be an undoubted aesthetic masterpiece.
The Rubik, designed by DHK will be developed by Abland, in partnership with Giflo and Nedbank with Dogon Group handling the marketing. Dogon Group Properties Managing Director, Rob Stefanutto said of the project "This DHK-designed building echoes things to come in the city centre – the wave of the future. Gone are the days of inner-city living being a novelty, and enter the days of “Great City Addresses” that are inspiring to live in. Dogon’s ongoing commitment to bringing cutting-edge projects to market is apparent in The Rubik. It will set a benchmark for future developments and see both out-of-town and local buyers being offered a truly quality product in a city on the rise in international terms."
While the Rubik is a welcome development, there are real underlying issues that now need to be confronted in South Africa and the rest of the continent. The South African model of development while appealing to the eye soon proves to be very cosmetic. It is especially so when one observes that more than six million children in the country live in poverty. The country has been reported as the most unequal country in the world. South Africa is also expected to fail to meet the 2030 poverty reduction target.
One can go on and on listing all the dreadful details behind the veneer of high, beautiful skyscrapers but the whole point is: poverty and inequality are real problems to be dealt with. The Rubik is at once a chance to encourage modern development and also confront the shantytowns and squalor a lot of people are living in. There is a real developmental puzzle to be solved by the metaphoric Rubik skyscraper of Cape Town.
Header Image: The Rubik Website