The Contours of the Cape

Meet the iconic layers of our one-of-a-kind city.

Our new sign celebrates our city-wide self-love-affair and gives visitors from around the world a warm reception to our shores. 


As the city’s inspiring waterfront neighbourhood, we’re proud to be this icon’s home. There’s no place like Cape Town and all that surrounds us, so we wanted to gift this beacon to the city and its people as a tribute to their uniqueness and a symbol to the world of our welcome. 


Visit the sign in Alfred Square, just in front of The Alfred in the heart of our waterfront world.


Explore Cape Town’s fingerprint

Each letter that spells CAPE TOWN represents one of the tall mountain tops that guard our peninsula which scenically slopes up and down, forming the unique fingerprint of the landscape embracing the Mother City. 


This mountainous topography gives rise to the resilience and exceptionality of our fair city – and inspires the 3D layers of our sign – reminding us that we live in a multi-layered melting pot. Eight mountains, eight letters. Many layers, endless possibilities. 


This is your sign that there’s magic in every layer that makes you who you are! 

Colour and creativity brought to life

At the back of each letter, you’ll discover eight original artworks, commissioned by the V&A Waterfront, created by Wayne Bks (aka Conform), Wes Leal and Adele van Heerden (three Cape Town artists) as well as Lalela, an arts education NPO and youth collective. 


Each artwork tells the story of the fauna, flora, fables and folk of the eight mountains, giving you a chance to explore the many layers behind the topographical fingerprint that inspired our sign, inviting you to own your own originality. 

Give us a C

Mountain: Hout Bay Mountain

The letter C represents Hout Bay Mountain

You’ll find Hout Bay on the northern side of Chapman’s Peak and a 20-minute drive from Cape Town’s city centre. Its name conjures up images of a picturesque town situated in a valley entirely surrounded by mountains and a bay along the Atlantic Coast. Rich in beloved hiking trails, the fingerprint of Hout Bay’s topography is an outdoor enthusiast’s dream and nurtures the natural beauty of the region, full of fynbos. 

Explore this landmark’s contours and discover how artist Wayne Bks re-imagined its story.

Give us an A

Mountain: Hottentots-Hollad Range

This range is known for its rugged, scenic landscapes with steep slopes and deep valleys covered in unique, diverse fynbos vegetation native to its soils. It forms part of the larger Cape Fold Belt, a geological formation comprising of a series of parallel mountain ranges and valleys. 


Hottentots-Holland is home to several dams and reservoirs (including the Steenbras Dam), playing a major role in supplying water to the residents of Cape Town. 

Explore the layers of this landmark and discover how artist Wes Leal re-imagined its story.

Give us a P

Mountain: Paarl Mountain

This up-and-down reserve is a protected area in the Cape Winelands region known for the Paarl Rock (Paarl Mountain), a massive granite formation standing out in the landscape. Dewdrops shining in the sun, covering this rock formation, were thought by settlers to resemble pearls, giving rise to the name for the Paarl area, derived from the Dutch word for “pearl”. Home to many bird species, it is a birdwatcher’s paradise. 

Explore this landmark’s fingerprint and discover how artist Lalela re-imagined its story.

Give us an E

Mountain: Stellenbosch Mountains

This mountain range surrounds the world-famous town of Stellenbosch in the Cape Winelands. One of the major wine-producing regions in South Africa, Stellenbosch’s slopes and valleys are the perfect terroir for cultivating grapes. Known for picture-perfect landscapes, many vineyards and wineries are nestled in the foothills of these mountain tops which are part of the Cape Fold Belt, a geological formation caused by millions of years of sedimentary rock layering. 

Explore the layers of this landmark and discover how artist Adele van Heerden re-imagined its story. 

Give us a T

Mountain: Atlantis Bobbenjaanberg

Discover Bobbejaanberg, a hidden gem near Atlantis, northwest of Cape Town, with popular cycling and running routes, which invite outdoor enthusiasts to embrace the diverse landscape around the mountain. Surrounded by private reserves, Atlantis enchants with vast open spaces, sand dunes and rolling hills offering breath-taking views of Table Mountain on clear days. Developed for the coloured community in the 1970s, Atlantis was created to segregate South Africans. Today, it is a vibrant town, aiming to become a hub for local green technology manufacturing. 

Explore this landmark’s fingerprint and discover how artist Wayne Bks re-imagined its story.

Give us an O

Mountain: Lion’s Head

Straddling between Table Mountain and Signal Hill, this prominent peak offers unparalleled 360-degree views of Cape Town, Table Mountain, the Atlantic Ocean and surrounds. The hiking trails leading to its summit makes this landmark one of the most frequented spots in the area, particularly popular for sunrise and sunset excursions, as well as iconic summit images. In the 19th century, it played an important role in early signal communications. 

Explore the layers of this landmark and discover how artist Lalela re-imagined its story. 

Give us a W

Mountain: Table Mountain

One of the greatest natural wonders of the world, Table Mountain is undoubtedly South African’s most iconic natural landmark. The result of millions of years of erosion, the flat top of this peak, made of sandstone, gives the mountain its charming name. Often covered by a layer of clouds, known as the “tablecloth”, Table Mountain is steeped in mystique. Visible from our precinct, it is also an important asset for the city, attracting countless visitors each year. 

Explore this landmark’s fingerprint and discover how artist Adele van Heerden re-imagined its story.

Give us an N

Mountain: Cape Point Funicular Upper

Part of the Table Mountain National Park, Cape Point juts out from the southeast corner of the Cape Peninsula. It is well known for its unique and diverse fauna and flora, including seabirds, the “dassie” (Rock Hyrax) and various plant species adapted to harsh conditions. A funicular operates up the steep fingerprint of this topography, leading to an upper viewing area with idyllic views. The animals of Cape Point also make an appearance with some cheeky baboons, a majestic whale and a dolphin pod, as well as raptors on a hunt. The history and biology of the area is given a magical twist by this illustrator. 

Explore the layers of this landmark and discover how artist Wes Leal re-imagined its story. 

The Thinking behind our sign

To conceptualise and build a sign fit for a city such as ours, we partnered with Thingking Studio, a consultancy that uses ideation, design and manufacturing to realise exciting possibilities that engage with the senses to create visceral emotional responses. 


The idea for the Contours of the Cape was championed by Thingking Design Director, Zahur Ameeroedien. The structure (standing 1.6m tall) is constructed out of aluminium – a highly durable and recyclable material – and accented by light strips which highlight the contours of each letter.