Here with a press release from Ilasa on last weeks awards, I hope to post in depth features on some of these over the next few weeks with more pictures and plans, The pictures are gleaned from the web as none are available from Ilasa   at his stage.

On 21 May Corobrik and the Institute for Landscape Architecture in South Africa (ILASA) celebrated 34 projects entered into the Awards of Excellence as well as the lifetime achievement of an icon of the landscape architectural profession:

Ann Sutton  2011 Icon of Landscape Architecture

Chosen as the 2011 South African Icon of Landscape Architecture, Ann Sutton is known as one of South Africa’s first landscape architects. Her lifetime dedication to the advancement of the profession of landscape architecture in South Africa has been nothing short of remarkable and tonight ILASA honours Ann for what she has achieved in her career, but also for the inspirational influence she has had on landscape architecture in South Africa. It would be true to say that without her inspiration landscape architecture in South Africa would not be where it is today.

Tonight ILASA honours Ann Sutton for her inspirational career – she has shown the way in contextual landscape design, making extensive use of indigenous plants and construction materials sourced from site. Her ability to design remarkable water features that capture the essence of a place is admirable. But Ann should also be acknowledged for her astute business skills – having shown that it was possible to be a successful woman entrepreneur in South Africa long before women received the recognition they deserve.

10 Award recipients

Out of the 34 entries 10 projects received 2011 Corobrik-ILASA Awards of Excellence – all in the category Planning & Design – Completed Projects. These were:

Eye of Africa

Eye of Africa Phase 1 by Landscape Architects Uys & White for Medallist

For its appropriate response to both the natural landscape and the infrastructural fabric of the residential estate Eye of Africa – Phase 1 receives an Award of Excellence. The seemingly effortless integration of parkscape and functional aspects – for example stormwater channelling – creates a serene setting for outdoor living. The selective introduction of elements in a vast landscape is successful in its attempt at place-making appropriate to a residential environment.

Here the landscape architects developed a park system, a streetscape theme and landscape design guidelines for private gardens – all sensitive to the environment, particularly in terms of water conservation and the Highveld climate.

The design for Eye of Africa is based on an open-space system, with each park, designed around the demographics of that specific residential area. Yet all the parks are linked via a neighbourhood recreational route as part of a multi-purpose road reserve.

A cost-effective and environmentally responsible stormwater-management system replenishes the local aquifer through a series of bio-swales. By avoiding the use of conventional kerbs and piped systems, the run-off is, to a large degree, reduced and absorbed into grass swales and natural vegetation. Any excess run-off is stored on site for reuse as irrigation.

Highveld House by African Environmental Design

Situated within a World Heritage Site – the Cradle of Humankind – and amidst relatively pristine Highveld grassland the landscape design of Highveld House is an outstanding example of sensitivity, responsiveness and restraint. It is a worthy recipient of an Award of Excellence!

Highveld Estate, a 200 ha farm in Kromdraai near Johannesburg, has been transformed from a commercial farm into a game farm and private getaway. The house – designed as a series of raised platforms to keep its ecological footprint as small as possible – is placed in the most developed area of the farm in order to ensure that as much of the existing vegetation is retained as possible. The house is placed within a Bakenveld habitat but directly between two different localised habitats: that of deciduous forest changing to open savannah and this has strongly influenced the planting and design concept.

The design supports the concept of a sustainable landscape by making use of species specific to this eco zone. The result is a contextual landscape, unique in character and with low maintenance and water requirements.

Hilltop at Zimbali by Landscape Architects Uys & White for Elides Investments

For pushing the boundaries of green building Hilltop Estate in KwaZulu-Natal receives an Award of Excellence. The project is commended for its innovation in aesthetics and sustainability.  The landscape’s integration with the built structure and the bold approach to planting of a 5 m-high retaining wall and adjacent roof garden make for groundbreaking work and stands as an example to all future green wall and roof garden designers.

The client wanted an “unconventional, understated arrival” for the main gatehouse of Hilltop at Zimbali. However, because of the steep site topography the only choice was to build a 6 m-high concrete retaining wall. In order to “soften” the appearance of the wall, holes were cast and precast planter boxes created. Soil levels were extended onto the roof of the gatehouse to create an indigenous roof garden.

Life Sciences Development by OvP Landscape Architects for the University of the Western Cape
For the excellent example it sets of contemporary landscape architecture working in close synergy with the architecture and engineering of the site, the Life Sciences Development at the University of the Western Cape receives an Award of Excellence. The innovative and environmentally-sound amalgamation of sculptural architecture, micro-climate manipulation, constructed refuge and natural wetland detention is commended.

The landscape of the Life Sciences development at UWC provides comfortable outdoor spaces, while at the same time encouraging biodiversity through micro habitats. Located on the edge of the Cape Flats with its harsh environmental conditions many sensitive habitats are under threat in the area – mainly so due to urban growth. It is therefore vital that this building reduces its impact on the environment through responsive design.

For this reason roof gardens moderate the building’s impact on the microclimate. These gardens absorb the heat of the sun rather than reflecting it and, through evaporation, help cool the air. This, in turn assists in the cooling of interior spaces. The roof gardens also act as a temporary water-retention system – thereby reducing the impact on the city’s overloaded stormwater system.

Lourens River Flood Alleviation Phase 1 D by Megan Anderson Landscape Architects for the City of Cape Town

In the case of the Lourens River Flood Alleviation project, the landscape architect’s excellent research and thorough understanding of riverine rehabilitation has resulted in an extremely successful ecological restoration project that is thoroughly planned and well-managed – it is a worthy recipient of an Award of Excellence.
Not only has the risk of flooding been reduced, but the rehabilitation of the riverine ecosystems of the Lourens River has helped to restore the natural environment within the urban context of Somerset West. The primary objective of the Lourens River Flood Alleviation project though is to increase public safety through flood-alleviation measures. This involves increasing the capacity of the river and reducing the flood risk for properties within the flood line.

Other project objectives include additional stabilisation of the river banks through extensive re-vegetation, rehabilitation of the ecosystem and enhancement of the recreational opportunities along the river.

Implemented landscape elements involve multi-stage channels, planted platforms, soil slopes and indigenous re-vegetation. For this purpose a nursery has been established to propagate plants for the rehabilitation process, as well as the ongoing two-year maintenance period.

The landscape plan is divided into nine sections with each section further divided into biodiversity zones. For example dry-bank trees and groundcovers, water-loffel planting, wet-bank trees, island planting and wet-bank shrubs.

Moses Mabhida Stadium Precinct by Iyer Urban Design Studio for eThekwini Municipality

For setting a precedent in restrained design that complements a world-class sporting icon, the Moses Mabhida Stadium Precinct receives an Award of Excellence. The project is commended because of its multi-disciplinary design approach that has made the most of urban design, architectural and landscape architectural skills, driven by a visionary client.
The urban and landscape design at Moses Mabhida Stadium Precinct allows for ongoing integration with the broader city and coastal corridor. The design is focused on the creation of an accessible, well-made and generous public-space system. The landscape design is contemporary and executed on a bold scale with continuity of approach, aesthetic appeal and response to local place and function clearly visible.

The stadium precinct comprises many remarkable spaces and places. These include the uncluttered concourse level surrounding the stadium and the polished concrete podium that serves as a raised plinth with planted embankments resembling a dune. This podium defines public and semi-public movement with the base assigned highest levels of being open to the public.  (“publicness”.)

Other significant spaces includes Imbizo Place – a multifunctional forecourt where circular Balau decks respond to the difficult, shady growth conditions underneath giant Ficus trees. Moses Mabhida Square, in turn, is a highly active forecourt to the Grand Staircase and its cascading water feature.

In terms of soft landscaping plant choices enhance the “sense of place” – species indigenous to KwaZulu-Natal are predominantly used. Plant types are selected to respond to the microclimates of the site with due consideration for proximity to the sea. The need for cost-effective maintenance and irrigation is taken into account and plant species which will also provide food and shelter for indigenous birds, insects and other urban wildlife are selected.

Sharpville Cemetery Memorial by Green Inc for Urban Genesis

For its carefully thought-through design response to an otherwise flat and sombre Highveld cemetery that successfully creates a space for reflection and contemplation, the Sharpville Memorial receives an Award of Excellence. The effective and clever application of scale, spatial proportion and level change through simplicity in design creates a place of memorial status.
The landscape at Phelindaba Cemetery in Sharpeville forms a memorial space rather than a simple memorial object. A processional route through the cemetery takes visitors past the 69 graves of those killed in the Sharpville Massacre. The visitor walks along the length of the memorial wall before entering the memorial space and walking up the ramp in order to reach the elevated viewing platform which juts forward and cantilevers over the landscape. This provides a view of the graves and Sharpeville beyond.

The clay-brick memorial wall includes a row of exposed raw-steel columns along one edge. Each column is topped with a granite flag. These steel columns are reminiscent of people standing in a row; all facing the same direction.

A “field of flowers” forms one edge of the memorial as a permanent bouquet akin to those left on graves daily. The memorial is lined by rows of Combretum and Olea trees. As burials take place in the cemetery on a daily basis, spaces for smaller intimate gatherings and large political events, such as the annual gathering on Human Rights Day, are provided.

Southdowns Country Farm Estate by V&L Landscape Architects for Centurus

In an area dominated by golf estate developments, the concept of the Southdowns Estate agricultural village represents a breath of fresh air. The successful introduction of farming as a legacy of land – our archetypal heritage – is commended and the project is a worthy recipient of an Award of Excellence.

Originally approached to establish a new golf estate on the banks of the Hennops River, the landscape architects have proposed the development of an agricultural estate instead – primarily because of the historic significance of the still operational Irene Estate Dairy Farm. The existing Irene Country Club golf course forms part of the overall estate planning and the result is the creation of a complete lifestyle precinct with the addition of a shopping centre, offices, a college, hostels and an arts village.

The design solution marries farm activities with that of an urban township development. The needs and requirements of the dairy cows are prioritised and the pastures are therefore the core of the development with the township evolving around them.

Southdowns Estate pioneers urban densification and optimisation and proves that agricultural activities can sustainably and feasibly continue within the modern-day urban context.

Spruitview Multipurpose Park by Outer Space Design for Ekurhuleni Metro Parks

For its strong sense of coherence in design, complemented by the excellent built (build?) quality, the Spruitview Multipurpose Park receives an Award of Excellence. The skilful use of the lay (lie?) of the land and the modelling thereof through earthworks result in effective spaces and landforms that aid in creating a sense of place in a neighbourhood deprived of quality urban open space.
Spruitview Multi-purpose Park caters to a variety of uses – from leisure sporting activities and passive recreation to public gatherings. Located on a steeply sloped site, 3D computer modelling has played a key role in the landscape design as it has enabled the landscape architect to make the most of the level changes. The software has helped in calculating soil cut and fill quantities, drawing of sections, and presentation of the design in an easily accessible way. A dolomite investigation has principally informed the type of construction (raft foundations) and the location of the buildings. It has also informed the decision to scrap an envisaged water play park due to the potential threat of sinkholes.

The whimsical and larger-than-life mobile sculpture adds an impactful visual component to the play park. In addition, community artwork provides the site with a unique identity. The amphitheatre frames the site and creates a dynamic backdrop to all the visual elements while the “caged”’ five-a-side soccer concept enables play without intrusion on other users. The lapa can also operate as a private entity.

Vineyard Hotel & Spa by Ann Sutton Landscape Architects for the Vineyard Hotel & Spa
For reflecting a successful balance between urban and natural context, the Vineyard Hotel & Spa receives an award of excellence. It is commendable that the foundation and careful direction of this balance has been clearly informed, influenced and guided by the landscape architect ever since the outset of the project 30 years ago.

There is much to commend about this project as an outstanding example of landscape architecture true to the art and science of the profession.  It is truly an exceptional precedent of quality landscape architecture, subtle yet iconic. The immaculately maintained garden is a truly excellent example of a traditional estate garden, and is a sensitive response to the historical context.

Ann Sutton was first commissioned to develop the gardens of the Vineyard Hotel & Spa in 1983, taking into consideration the ongoing 27-year long piecemeal expansion of the hotel. Ever since then she has been interpreting the historic and mountain influences of the site and almost no part of the gardens is considered completed to this day.

The site boasts the magnificent backdrop of Table Mountain – a view that is almost without parallel anywhere else in Cape Town. Situated on the banks of the Liesbeek River, which was overgrown with exotics oaks and poplars, and practically inaccessible due to steep banks of dumped rubbish, Ann has cleared and graded a gentle slope to make way for an extraordinary garden.

Currently she is in the process of conversion to indigenous planting; replacing oaks and poplars with CeltisOlea and Ocotea, for example. The only exotics allowed to remain are camellias because of their historic connection. This year a small vineyard commemorating 300 years of winemaking has also been established

A noteworthy aspect of the estate gardens is the use of many roof gardens above basement parking garages.

Two special awards:

In addition to the 10 project awards, two special awards were bestowed upon:

Johannesburg City Parks
A special award recognises the contribution made by an individual, firm or organisation in terms of the promotion of the profession of landscape architecture. The 2011 Corobrik-ILASA Special Award is bestowed upon Johannesburg City Parks for its development of three parks in Soweto and surrounds.

The adjudication panel commends Johannesburg City Parks for the striking positive contribution the Orlando Dube Eco Park, the Dhlamini Eco Park and the Vlakfontein Medicinal Park make to open space development. The public- private partnerships of these ventures as well as the continuous dedication to the management and upkeep of the parks through community involvement sets a president for the sustainable future of community parks.

In the light of the legacy of community parks fighting an uphill battle to be maintained and respected by all, Johannesburg City Parks’ strategy and careful planning deserve to be recognised and stand as a prime example of the upliftment brought about through greening of environments. Furthermore the careful planning regarding the selection of strategic locations for these interventions ensure growing awareness of, and concern for, the immediate natural environment. Woven into the features of the parks is a message of environmental awareness that motivate residents to take ownership and stamp out actions that degrade their surroundings.  Being part of a community of professionals who see environmental concerns and healthy living environments as a priority, ILASA strongly supports these efforts and in years to come, hopes to see many more such endeavours as impressive examples of  transformation brought about within challenging environments.

Gerald Garner
Another award for an outstanding contribution to the promotion of the profession of landscape architecture was bestowed upon Gerald Garner. This is in recognition of his many years of work in the industry – especially in his original capacity as publisher of Urban Green File magazine and more recently as fundraiser and event organiser for ILASA.

Presidential award: Moses Mabhida Stadium Precinct
The recipient of the 2011 Corobrik-ILASA Presidents Award is the Moses Mabhida Stadium Precinct. The landscape around the Moses Mabhida Stadium manages not to be overwhelmed by the scale of this striking edifice, which is no mean feat. Its designers have been confident enough to provide generous open spaces and demonstrate a fitting restraint in detailing and material specification. The result is a bold and sophisticated setting for the stadium with a contemporary, world-class feel. The collaboration between various built environment professions from urban designers to architects and landscape architects is commendable and this project is a worthy recipient of the 2011 Corobrik-ILASA Awards of Excellence President’s Award.



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