RFG is a major producer of fresh, frozen and long-life meal solutions distributed throughout South Africa, sub-Saharan Africa and beyond. One of their multiple production facilities is located in Groot Drakenstein in the Western Cape and it is here that two new buildings, the New Product Development Facility (NPD) and the Laboratory, have been constructed to replace existing facilities that have been outgrown. While each facility is housed in a separate building, they have been designed together so as to create a cohesive pair of new buildings that contribute positively to the existing fabric of various sized industrial buildings. Ultimately their design has formed part of a bigger scale project whereby the infrastructure, services and other existing facilities on the site have been upgraded, as part of a coherent master plan.

The NPD facility comprises a large kitchen with associated service components, a staff component including office space and meeting rooms, and a public component including a food theatre and reception space.

The Laboratory building includes a highly specialised laboratory with associated services and a small staff component including an office and meeting room.


Both buildings were conceived as steel sheds, appropriate to the somewhat rural context of Groot Drakenstein, and in congruence with the existing buildings and nature of activity across the site. The Groot Drakenstein mountains to the west serve as a spectacular backdrop to the buildings and this inspired the divergence from a standard portal frame shed typology to an asymmetric shed form resulting in the building profiles subtly emulating the rise and fall of the mountains beyond. This was achieved structurally through a series of different height portal frames running the length of each building that ultimately generated sloping eaves along the long elevations and horizontal eaves along the short elevations. Furthermore, the play of roof-lines was enhanced by arranging the two building forms at ninety degrees to one another. Also important in the design of each building was to create interiors that were user-friendly and functionally efficient with a high level of finishes, notwithstanding their shed-like external appearance.

Architects interviews:


Each portal frame is constituted from 203x133x25mm I-sections. The portal frames are then assembled at regular grid intervals along the length of the plan, with their different heights ordered to form roof gradients along the long axis and the roof ridge along the short axis. 150x75x20x3mm roof purlins and 125x50x20x2.5mm sheeting rails provide the sub-structure for the buildings to be clad on all faces with Safintra ‘Newlok’ sheeting. The steel structure is concealed on all facades, as are the steel gutters and rainwater downpipes. Careful steel detailing was required to achieve this minimal aesthetic.

The integration of windows into the facade and the concerns around achieving neat flashings lead to the use of steel window boxes that provide clean frames for the aluminium window sections. Sheeting rail spacings and layouts were carefully designed to accommodate all openings and canopies, and similarly, the roof purlin layouts needed to incorporate rooflights over the entrance areas. A further challenge was the complex coordination of services to ensure that chimneys and vent louvres were positioned thoughtfully on the sheeted facades and were finished with neat flashings.

To achieve maximum levels of thermal comfort internally and to help reduce overall energy usage through mechanical means, the external facades were made up from brick cavity walls built between and around portal frames, positioning the steel to the outside face allowing a continuous skin of brickwork to the inside. This prevented a thermal bridge from being created between inside and out, and also provided the means for fixing sheeting rails. Similarly, the roof construction was designed to maximise insulation in the roof plane – ‘Lamdaboard’ insulation board was installed over purlin and roof sheeting fixed through to the roof purlins.


It was necessary to coordinate a large number of below-ground services before casting the raft foundations. Once the foundation was cast, the entire steel structure was quickly erected within 2 weeks. The cladding specification for Newlok from Safintra was made due to its distinctive aesthetic quality. 

Cladding Contractor Interview:

From the outset of the design, the architect and structural engineer worked cohesively with a common vision in order to develop the buildings to be true to their original concept. Together with proactive and motivated builders, the team achieved the project on budget with minimal delays to the construction programme.

Project motivation editorials are provided by the project nominator. If any technical details, company names or product names are incorrect, please notify the SAISC so that the error can be corrected.

Completion date of steelwork September 2017
Completion date of full project December 2018
Tons of structural steel used 41tons
Structural profiles used 254x146x31 I section; 305x165x40I section; 203x133x25 I Section; IPE 200; 152x 52×23 H sections, 175x65x20 CFLC;150x65x20 CFLC;125x65x20 CFLC
Completion date of cladding August 2018
Cladding profile/ type used Newlok 440
Cladding area/ coverage and tonnage 2 100m2
Nominator Safintra
Client/ Developer Rhodes Food Group
Architect Loudon Perry Anderson Architects
Project Architect Loudon Perry Anderson Architects
Structural Engineer WSP
Engineers  WSP
Quantity Surveyor Michael Baker & Associates
Main Contractor Power Construction
Steelwork Contractor Triomf Staalwerke
Steel Erector Triomf Staalwerke
Cladding Manufacturer Safintra
Cladding Supplier Safintra
Cladding Contractor Scheltema

If you were a part of this project, and your company details are incorrect or missing – please notify the SAISC so that the error can be corrected.