Life Sciences Development by OvP Landscape Architects for the University of the Western Cape wins ILASA Award

On 21 May 2011 Corobrik and the Institute for Landscape Architecture in South Africa (ILASA) celebrated 34 projects entered into the Awards of Excellence

View across entrance plaza + LC roof decks

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 received an Award of Excellence.

The juries commented: “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.”

UWC-LSD landscape plan

“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”

View into Forest Plaza + Water Feature

Extracts from the landscape architects submission to the awards:

Client’s Brief/ Objective of the development:

The Life Sciences Department (LSD) of the University of the Western Cape in Bellville is a landmark building that, in its designed landscape context, seeks to reflect a commitment to sustainable design.

  • To create an iconic/ modern element for the University
  • To place the University on the world map as a teaching and research entity
  •  providing state of art the teaching facilities
  • To employ flexible & adaptable Sustainable Solutions

View across landscaped spaces towards Table Mountain


The site is located on the edge of the Cape Flats, an area that endures harsh environmental conditions. Many sensitive habitats of the area are under threat due to urban growth and development.

As many endemic plant species as possible were rescued for later replanting at the neighbouring Cape Flats Nature Reserve..

The ‘informal nature area’ consists of the remaining open stretch of land that has been re-shaped to create a variety of low-lying areas, mounds and level planes, a microcosm of the Cape Flats environment, which will hopefully assist with the establishment of a variety of micro-plant communities.

Landscape precincts

The following key landscape precincts are described:   

 Entrance plaza

This is a formal, hard landscaped space, framed on either side by the east elevation of the Lab Block and the Learning Centre.

    Forest plaza

The name ‘Forest Plaza’ is derived from the tree-shaped structural columns supporting the floating pergola ‘canopy’ above this space. New large trees, placed between the column bases, further augment this tree-shaped pergola structure.

Forest Plaza

Display Gardens

The organically shaped ‘display garden’ forms the centre of the space, with access provided by means of an informal stone path curving through the centre. The concept for the garden is that it should become a didactic showcase for local plants

Display Gardens

 Learning centre roof gardens

Both roof decks of the Learning Centre are designed as succulent plant roof gardens. From the upper floors of the Lab Block, the patterning of these gardens, highlighted by the curved pathways, can be perceived again in the Forest Plaza below, creating an integrated design experienced not only on ground level.

Roof garden in flower

Competitions Won:

  1. Award of Excellence in Landscape Architecture, from the Institute of Landscape Architects of South Africa
  2. Gold Award for Landscape Construction (SALI South African Landscape Contractors Institute Awards 2011)
  3. Best Landscape Construction Award (SALI Awards 2011)
  4. National Shield Award, from the SALI Awards 2011

Landscape Project Team:

Client:                                                                         University of the Western Cape, Bellville

Landscape Architects:                                     OVP Associates

Architects:                                                       dhk Architects

Environmental Consultants:                   Ecosense

All images and drawings supplied by Penny Moir of  OvP Associates

Permission to publish: Johan van Papendorp (Principal OvP)

One thought on “Life Sciences Development by OvP Landscape Architects for the University of the Western Cape wins ILASA Award

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