Around 3 billion people lack an adequate home.
A strong and beautiful home for everyone
can be achieved through innovation.

About Citra

“Our Mission is to help to eliminate the global homes shortage
through technology leadership delivered by the first reliable housing brand.”

What we do

Citra develops, designs, and builds homes and estates with its own world-leading building technology. We are driven by the desire to deliver homes for clients from all walks of life that are not only beautiful and high-quality, but also built with sustainability in mind.

Our homes are designed to make their owners proud and fill them with joy. When they wake up, when they spend time with their family, when they welcome visitors or need calm and peace – the home should be the safe place where life happens.

 

Why we do it

Today, homes of high quality and durability, with attention to detail and built sustainably are only available to the upper end of the market. Citra aims to bring these values to the middle-income and affordable market.

“Today, the lowest-paid employee at a car factory can afford an entry level car. However, in most countries, no construction worker can afford to buy a house. Citra intends to change this. Our goal is to reduce construction costs and increase the productivity of our workers so that everyone, from construction workers to interns, can own a Citra home.”

Joel Baur, Co-Founder and CEO of Citra

How we do it

We carefully rethink every element of a home: The foundation, the walls, the roof. Our award-winning, advanced Citra Building Technology radically changes these elements. A thermal core provides protection from heat and cold. The thermal core is covered with a structural skin, creating homes that have the strength to withstand the strongest storms, fire, bullets, and the test of time.

Our advanced production methods allow us to produce the thermal core at any shape. This allows us to challenge current design conventions that are dictated by linear industrial production processes.

Citra’s engineers, architects, and construction teams work closely together to constantly push the boundaries of technologies in construction. The inputs from the teams that are practically building with our technology and from the teams that are liaising with our clients ensure that our technology fits the needs of our clients and can be built at our high quality standards. As a result, Citra can build homes of unparalleled quality and cost.

The building industry is known for mediocre quality and questionable customer service after completion of a home. Citra builds homes of outstanding durability and design. And our clients benefit from our world-class customer service. If you build a home with Citra you can count on us. Because we care about what we build.

Neighborhood

A strong community is essential for a prosperous life. That’s why, in the affordable housing sector, we don’t just build homes – we design entire neighborhoods. To accomplish this, we develop large-scale projects of at least 1,000 homes. This allows us to design thoughtful and sustainable neighborhoods that combine living with working, education, and pleasure so that the residents can truly live differently.

We apply our design philosophy across every aspect, from the overall urban layout to the placement of doors and light points within each home. This meticulous attention to detail ensures a safe and welcoming environment for residents. By combining the uniqueness of our homes with thoughtful urban planning, Citra creates affordable neighborhoods of remarkable quality that will develop into prosperous and safe communities.

Citra Team

Meet the minds behind Citra

Meet the founders, the individuals whose combined expertise and passion fueled the idea of building a better future through sustainable housing.

Joel Baur

Co-Founder and CEO

Joel (*1990) is passionate about making homes affordable, safe and beautiful for as many people as possible. Joel moved to Cape Town to build up Citra after finishing his architectural studies in Switzerland. Prior to starting Citra, Joel co-started the Vitruvian Oath binding architects to ethical values and worked at Boltshauser Architects in Switzerland.

Benno Büeler

Co-Founder and Chairman

Benno (*1961) holds a PhD in Mathematics with a thesis focused on carbon emission trading and a Master’s degree in Agricultural Sciences. He is passionate about developing economically and environmentally viable solutions at scale. Prior to starting Citra, Benno worked as CFO at Elips Life and as group controller at Swiss Re.

Andreas Graf

Co-Founder and Director

Andreas (*1960) holds a Master’s degree in Agricultural Sciences. He is passionate about helping the underprivileged and worked in humanitarian aid throughout his career. Prior to starting Citra, Andreas worked for the Swiss Government and the German Welthungerhilfe with missions in Mali, North Korea, Kenya, and Myanmar.

How it all began

Citra’s story began with three independent visions for positive change. 

In the wake of the devastating earthquake in Haiti in 2010, co-founder Andreas Graf, an agricultural engineer and founder of the Anthills Think Tank, was driven to find a solution for rapid, robust, and economical housing solutions in disaster areas. 

Benno Büeler who grew up as the son of Swiss farmers always had a passion for sustainable, scalable solutions. As a serial entrepreneur he had gained experience in startups in the IT and Finance sector and was keen to use his experience and knowledge to leverage a startup that could significantly reduce carbon emissions at global scale.

Joel Baur at the age of 16 had spent a year in Mexico and was impressed by the beauty of architecture contrasted by the horrendous living conditions of many underprivileged Mexican families. He decided to study architecture in order to make a difference in the lives of people that couldn’t afford it today.

When Joel graduated in Architecture in 2015, the three entrepreneurs decided to try to unite their dreams for sustainable, scalable, affordable housing solutions. The start of Citra couldn’t have been more humble: In Benno’s garden and in the backyard of another of Andreas’ startups they personally produced the first material samples in Switzerland. At the same time, Joel and his wife sold their few belongings in Switzerland and arrived with one suitcase each to Cape Town to start the Citra operations on the ground. Andreas, Benno, and Joel had identified South Africa as the best place to develop the first Citra homes and bring them to market.

Citra History

Citra was born

Global research led to South Africa being chosen as the first market, driven by its size, diverse economy, and potential as an entry point to other African developing countries. Co-founders embarked on research trips, meeting stakeholders to understand market needs.

 

2015

Ambassador's Cottage

Joel and his wife packed their bags in Switzerland and moved to South Africa. Seed funding was secured, and the first Citra show house was built, the Ambassador's Cottage, in Pretoria.

2016

House Mahika

The first client signed a contract and Citra began working on House Mahika on the Whale Coast close to Cape Town, South Africa.

2017

CentralBlue

The first property with over 40 ha of land was acquired in Cape Town as the first step towards making Citra’s technologies available to the affordable market. This property later became our flagship project CentralBlue.

 

2018

Citra Building Technology Certified

Citra's advanced building technology was officially certified by Agrément South Africa. Construction started on our first show house in CentralBlue.

2019

26 eHomes at CentralBlue

Construction of CentralBlue's first 26 eHomes started just as the first South African Covid-19 lockdown began. Despite this setback, we successfully completed and sold all units, delighting new homeowners.

2020

ePod Dragonstone

Following the success of the first 26 eHomes, the construction of the first ePod began. Additionally, construction of Emerald Place 1 was completed, delivering 34 new homes. Citra acquired additional land in Cape Town paving the way for up to 3,000 future homes.

2021

Hazendal 5 Star Hotel

Sales at CentralBlue soared past 200 units and construction was accelerated to deliver all homes as soon as possible. Meanwhile, construction of the iconic, three-dimensionally curved arches for the five-star Hazendal Hotel was completed. We advanced to the next round of the C40 competition for two Cape Town sites. The team expanded to over 40 full-time employees.

2022

Awards & International Expansion

Over 100 units completed and 800 more in planning. Citra won several awards including Best Building Technology in Southern Africa, a Platinum Houzee award for the eHome design, and the AUHF award for the best Property Technology in Africa. The Citra team expanded to over 70 full-time employees. We started planning projects in the US, Switzerland, and Namibia and received inquiries for projects valued at over USD 500 million in 2023 and early 2024.

2023

Citra Newsletter

Ambassador's Cottage in Pretoria, South Africa