A Tradition of Innovation & Design Excellence
A Tradition of Innovation & Design Excellence
01.02.2022| Bentel Associates International
A 62-year commitment to innovation and design excellence, in the commercial building and construction environment, has defined Bentel Associates International as a major multidisciplinary design practice. Our achievements have substantially contributed to the proud reputation of South African architecture, both locally and internationally, and the name, Bentel, has become synonymous with quality, aesthetics and commercial viability. Major clients include Abland, Atfund Properties, Anglo American properties, First National Bank, Investec, Liberty Life, Pareto, Pick ‘n Pay, Sasol, Sanlam, Shell SA and Tsogo Sun to name a few Clients we have worked with over the years. In addition to the local property market the company currently has completed projects across the African region, Asia and the Middle East.
Recognising the diversity of talents necessary to provide a comprehensive design service to corporate and institutional clients, the practice has established specialist divisions capable of functioning jointly or independently, and of interacting positively with the demands of clients and the needs of project development.
Bentel Associates International (Pty) Ltd (‘Bentel’) offers a wide range of specialist skills including architectural design and development, master planning, interior design, graphic design, sustainability design services, and store planning, which together form the capability of the company to maintain a staff compliment which is fully experienced and capable of running large and complicated projects.
This synergy results in an original and practical approach to design which complements the company’s primary aim, both in design and construction, which is to produce buildings of high aesthetic value and quality in design within the limitations of time and budget.
The company originated in 1960, with Len Bentel and Dennis Abramson as the founding partners. Originally a general practice with a focus on retail projects, the company has grown through the years into a widely recognised, multi award-winning organization. The company pioneered the design and introduction of internal mall shopping centres and the “Theme Centre” concept. In the late 1960s, the Company was approached by Pick ‘n Pay to undertake store planning for the rapidly expanding group. This marked the beginning of Bentel Associates’ long relationship with the supermarket giant and the company became the architect for many of the developments in which Pick ‘n Pay was the anchor tenant.
Rapidly establishing themselves as a premier retail architectural firm Bentel undertook the design of the first fully enclosed shopping centre in South Africa, Randpark Centre, now known as Heathway Centre, in Blackheath Johannesburg, which opened in 1968, and was followed by a multitude of similar centres around the country.
Later Bentel was involved in the concept and design of the country’s first hypermarket which opened in Boksburg in 1975. The concept was then developed nationally and has been highly successful.
More than any other form of architecture, retail architecture is subject to the critical test of its success, where public approval is measured directly in shopping volumes and retail turnover. The immediate and continuing success of the many shopping centres designed by the practice is testimony to its design skills and expertise. Most recently, the following retail awards have been won in the last five years:
2018 Whale Coast Mall, Category A winner, New Development- Retail Design and Development Award
2018 Whale Coast Mall-The Spectrum Award – Retail Design and Development
2019 African Property Awards, Retail Architecture Award winner for Cornubia Mall
2019 PMR Africa, Diamond Arrow, National Survey on Architects, Large Architects Firm, 1st Overall
2021 African Property Award, Best Retail, La Lucia Mall
La Lucia Mall
As one of South Africa’s leading “Theme Architects”, Bentel Associates International are responsible for some of the most colourful and dramatic shopping centres and complexes in South Africa. Theme centres were becoming popular throughout the world in response to an increasing desire amongst people to experience other cultures and environments. The concept worked well in the Workshop in Durban; the design converted the original locomotive workshop into a retail complex with Victorian features. This award-winning design was heavily themed and ingenuously executed. Further theme centres were developed and the design of the Canal Walk shopping centre saw the opening of Bentel Associates offices in Cape Town in 1997.
Through the years, the Company has also become involved with casino design culminating in the magnificent Montecasino complex in Fourways. This complex was also highly themed and the final plans were only drawn up after intensive research and attention to the most minute design details. Providing a challenge to the practice, the Canal Walk and Montecasino projects were completed concurrently.
The 1990s saw the advent of Sandton Square, later renamed Nelson Mandela Square. Bentel’s expertise was utilised in the retail and adjoining structures around the Square, whilst The Michelangelo Towers site was not originally included in the plan and was envisaged at the time as an office block with a retail component linked to Sandton Square. The now well-known Michelangelo Towers project is one of the tallest building’s on the Sandton skyline, and still commands some of the highest prices per square metre in Africa.
The new millennium also brought the challenges of transformation and the company’s expansion into the international arena, both of which have served to increase its capabilities and expertise. In 2003 Bentel Abramson and Partners was relaunched as Bentel Associates International. With a fresh corporate identity, the company opened its first office in Dubai in the Middle East in 2003, followed in 2004 with offices in Mumbai and Riyadh.
The company has won many awards through the years and is a proud example of South African architects’ tenacity and commitment to design excellence. Their most recent industry accolade is winning the PMR Diamond Arrow Award for outstanding top placed Architectural firm in South Africa for 2018,2019, 2020 and 2021 – a testimony to the Bentel team of staff and Directors.
The practice has always been an equal opportunity employer and the criteria for employment of staff throughout their 62 years of existence has been and continues to be based solely on merit. The company is also committed to the empowerment of other firms of architects and professional consultants by the transference of skills, mentoring, and conducting joint ventures on certain projects where two firms are jointly appointed to a project.
Bentel employs a multi-representation across all races and genders, including international nationalities. Whilst contract workers are employed, Bentel Associates International maintains a stable and permanent staffing policy. Senior members of staff have been with the practice for many years and are widely experienced in various fields of architectural application. The staff compliment, architectural work completed and projects still under construction, all combine to form one of Africa’s largest architectural practices.
Bentel is committed to developing a sustainable building philosophy. In practice, this means consideration of appropriate materials, the sensitive use of design and technology to conserve energy, and visual design solutions that are flexible, sensitive and courteous to the environment within which the new building is sited. This approach also implies a process of constructive interaction with governmental agencies and corporate clients, for it is with these – the primary generators of the built environment – that any meaningful strategy for a sustainable built environment will eminate from.
The tradition of excellence will continue into the future. As Executive Director Tim Harlech-Jones says, “Bentel has been a steadfast and well-known name in the industry over the years in South Africa and the Indian sub-continent, and the longevity of the company can we best explained with the contributions of various individuals which make up ‘Team Bentel’, the Clients who have repeatedly trusted us to deliver on their projects and industry professionals and peers who work alongside us on the various projects. Without any of these, we would not be where we are today. We look forward to growing the brand and its reach across Africa, and the Middle-East and Asian regions, and responding to the ever evolving environment of our industry with respect to design and technological challenges and changes.”
About Bentel Associates International:
Bentel is a leading African and Indian-based design firm established in 1960 which has a dedicated and focused service offering across multiple sectors, comprising retail, office, residential and hospitality projects. Today Bentel is an award-winning architectural firm known for having designed many unique and landmark developments throughout the African continent and the Middle-East.
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