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Custom built venue to wow Saphila 2014 delegates

Today, most conferences are held at established venues, which means that space can be somewhat confined. This is not the case for epic technology conference, Saphila 2014, a biennial African event hosted by the African SAP User Group (AFSUG), which will be taking the term “innovation” to new levels across all aspects of the conference – from the speakers and sessions, to the purpose built, open air conference and exhibition venue, called “Saphilatown”.

Saphilatown has been designed to give the conference delegates and exhibitors a unique experience that is as aesthetically pleasing to the eye as it is functional. “We wanted to create a space that would fit our unique vision of what this year’s overhauled conference would look like, and so, needed a space that was innovative and inspirational, in keeping with the new Saphila,” explains AFSUG vice chairman, Sal Laher. “We did not want to give conference delegates, sponsors, exhibitors and speakers an off-the-shelf experience, but a conference that would blow their minds, and for us, the venue is a critical part of that.”

In order to build an area that was both fit-for-purpose as well as extraordinary, ASFUG has opted for a design that utilises refurbished shipping containers as the core building blocks, rather than bricks and mortar. To create this dramatic new addition to the 2014 event experience, the shipping containers will be enveloped in spectacular graphic decals, stacked one on top of the other, and joined together with interconnecting bridges, ramps and staircases.

Currently the 34 containers that will be used to build Saphilatown are in Germiston, on the East Rand of Gauteng, where all the preparatory work will take place. This includes joining containers together to create a double space for exhibitors, making doors and windows, removing “walls”, and putting in wiring and network points. “Over 100 people will be involved in this project from the preparation to the final build,” explains Laher.

This build will be a massive feat of construction and choreography. The actual assembly of Saphilatown will take three to four days. The containers will be brought by truck to Sun City, having undertaken a journey of the combined distance of 3 740 kilometre to the final site, where they will be placed one-by-one, using a huge crane, onto a 3 800m2 decking platform that will be constructed in the car park of the Gary Player Golf Course. This location is ideal as it has a natural slope, which lends itself perfectly to an auditorium, with Saphilatown slotting in around its perimeter.

The finished Saphilatown product will see 17 6-metre and 17 12-metre containers, provide 735 metres2 of floor space, with a cumulative weight of 105 000 kilograms (or 105 metric tonnes). Once the event is completed, the containers will then be donated for use by charities to be selected, as part of AFSUG’s corporate social investment (CSI) initiative.

“Saphilatown will be a unique, world-class space for Saphila 2014, designed with the delegates, sponsors and exhibitors in mind. This event is shaping up to be exceptional in every way. I don’t know about you, but I can’t wait for June,” concludes Laher.

Saphila 2014 will take place from 9 to 11 June at the Sun City Resort in South Africa’s North-West Province. The Saphila 2014 Executive Forum kicks off on 8 June. For more information or to register for the upcoming event, please visit