Based in Cape Town, South Africa, over the past 6 years, we have successfully designed and optimised over 130 projects across all scales of urban design, architecture, environmental planning and engineering to produce plans and details that are integrated across an entire project. We strive to innovate on every project through designing developmental playgrounds, finding ecological solutions to urban engineering, making successful green open spaces in harsh urban environments, finding cost effective ways to achieve world-class outcomes and providing the most compelling visual communication.
We are passionate about our profession and thoroughly committed to humanity’s shared responsibility of stewardship of the earth. We thus approach landscape architecture holistically, with integrity and humility; endeavouring to meet human settlement needs within environmental carrying capacity. Our focus is place-making, with a context-driven approach to planning, design and detailing. We are acutely aware of the copious challenges facing contemporary cities, particularly issues of socio-economic empowerment and environmental justice; and we are convinced of the immense value landscape architecture is able to contribute to any project.
We strive to impact upon all aspects of spatial design – at all levels – from strategic and metropolitan open space systems planning, landscape urban design, civil engineering, architecture (including building placement, size, articulation, orientation, aggregation, and technology), to the detail design of streetscapes, urban squares, campuses, plaza and sport fields. Our work is applied as a consolidated place-making tool – lending legibility to place, and embodying design which is appropriate to climate, context and culture; and offering opportunities for rest, recreation, income generation, environmental services and habitat provision. Our vision imagines people living healthy and responsible lifestyles within and caring for an urban habitat that is heterogeneous, complex, evocative, interactive, dynamic, positive, energising, invigorating, participative, generous, valued, safe, viable, well-integrated and suitably fitting to its context.
The site is located within the Foreshore district – a reclaimed area between the historic city centre and the harbour and was designed in the 1940s according to modernist planning principles. This project created an opportunity to counter the harsh environmental conditions created by the over-scaled buildings and boulevards in the area. Our client appointed us to redesign this public open space as an ‘urban sanctuary’ within the Foreshore.
Our initial master-planning exercise reimagined the foreshore in terms of Landscape Urbanism, integrating stormwater management strategies with a sheltered network of green infrastructure. We designed sustainable urban drainage systems as the structuring elements for public place-making while facilitating convenient pedestrian movement and connections to public transport. The detailing of the square evokes a marine / wharf environment, referencing the geology and landscape that existed before the foreshore was reclaimed.
Above the square, rainwater is harvested from the roof of the parking garage, stored in tanks and used to irrigate the expansive green façades that drape the sides of the building. Overflow water is directed down the enormous columns within the square and into relaxation chambers to dissipate the energy from the fall. The water is then channelled into bio-filtration basins where it sustains indigenous wetland species and is able to percolate into the groundwater, minimising the burden on the city’s stormwater infrastructure.
Our winning entry in a design competition re-imagined an existing car park ramp as a multi-purpose meeting, recreation, and event space. This spiral ramp structure forms the core of the long four-storey building. We were commissioned to transform the ramp into a unique amenity that would attract dynamic new tenants to the development.
Our Skycatcher concept provides a unique urban place-making opportunity through the creation of a consolidated façade of vertical greenery. Climbing plants wrap the ramp structure, creating an eye-catching cylinder of green. A carefully engineered slice through the concrete ramp allows sunlight to stream down onto a large reflecting pool at the base of the structure, while an amphitheatre provides opportunities for gatherings alongside the reflecting pool. Here, visitors can experience the sky and the inner green-draped walls reflected in the pool. For those wanting to take a break from their office environment, seating areas along the ramp offer breakaway spaces for lunch and relaxation. A beer garden and food stalls adjacent to the ramp to provide sustenance. The arbour-like ramp functions as an ambulatory or open air gallery and opens up to reveal the sky above and panoramic views of Devils Peak and Table Mountain. The Skycatcher brings the outside in, and draws the inside out – creating spaces rich in sensory experience and balances built and natural elements to create a valuable and unique urban place.
The master plan for the Somerset Lakes mixed use development was designed around sustainable urban drainage principles, whereby all the stormwater on site would be collected and used for irrigation and where dams, swales and water channels would be used as valuable building blocks for the creation of exciting open space networks. The entrance precinct offered our first opportunity to implement these philosophies and develop them into an attractive gateway for the estate.
We were able to intercept the overflow stormwater from the broader site and channel it into functional streams, ponds and bio-filtration basins. The existing roads within the precinct were retro-fitted to redirect storm-water away from the traditional stormwater infrastructure and into the natural channels where it can be purified and allowed to recharge the groundwater.
Working into this structure, we drew on the rich biodiversity of plant species found in the locally indigenous Lourensford Alluvium Fynbos vegetation type to develop a matrix of plant species that have been designed to ensure that the precinct is filled with striking colour and textures through all seasons. Planting of mature trees provides screening of the adjacent highway and generous, shaded walkways provide a pleasant environment for pedestrians.
Learning often takes place outside the classroom and well-designed campus environments are key to the success of institutions. Our plan for a vibrant mixed use campus starts with the premise that great campus designs plan open space first, followed by circulation and then the placement of buildings. With this in mind we sought to protect and enhance the 2 landscape realms that were not being used optimally – a steep, wooded slope and a sunny flat space. The residential buildings and café/ resource centre were pushed to the edges of the site to better frame these spaces and activate the street edges. Basement parking ensures that cars don’t compromise public space and rooftops are activated with gardens for relaxation and the growing of vegetables for the canteen. The plan integrates the existing woodland trees into a lawned amphitheatre for performances and lectures. The upper space is opened up into a sunny courtyard framed by the buildings – encouraging social interaction. A multi-purpose hall and gallery pavilion connects the open spaces. A library, gymnasium and rooftop pool are aligned with the YMCA’s principles of promoting healthy bodies, minds and spirits. The sloped site enables the use of water to integrate the various spaces with channels and ponds. Natural sandstone and fynbos planting are in keeping with the site’s location on the slopes of Table Mountain, while construction materials and details integrate the building language with the broader UCT campus.
Located on a prominent corner site, this 20 storey, Brutalist building was completed in 1968. A central tower block was more recently converted from office space to residential apartments and is supported by a dominant multi-storey plinth containing shops and parking. The podium deck is substantial in size and provides a unique perspective of the facades of the surrounding historic buildings and cityscape beyond. Our microclimatic analysis enabled the design of spaces to optimally respond to wind patterns and the fluctuating movement of sun and shade across the deck. Inviting alcoves provide spaces for rest and respite from the elements. Sunset seating and relaxation bays allow views onto the surrounding buildings. Colourful, sculptured playscapes and woven climbing nets encourage play and interaction within the space. Feature elements include a sky mirror, water feature and reflection pond, providing spaces for calm and rejuvenation. A raised lawn area, bamboo forest and soft perimeter planting bring life and energy to the space, providing ecological refuge in the harsh urban environment. A ramped bridge connects the internal gym to the jogging track that weaves through the space, encouraging residents to bring their exercise routine to the outdoors. A multi-purpose deck space can be used as an outdoor cinema, while feature lighting enlivens the night-time ambience. A book lounge and functions kiosk are inserted into the building edge to further activate the deck.