Value Proposition

View Urban Choreography  Design Process on Slideboom

UC Front PageFounded by Donovan Gillman in 2011, Urban Choreography is a unique planning, design and public space management firm whose focus is urban, residential, commercial and leisure developments in Southern and Central Africa.

Urban Choreography is a transdisciplinary practice that utilises advanced planning methods and collaboration with experts in all fields of development planning and management to deliver world-class development planning design and implementation management.

With over 30 years of experience in the green industry, Donovan was a founding member of the South Africa Landscapers Institute and is the recipient of many SALI awards of excellence, including honorary lifetime membership in recognition of outstanding service to the green industry.

Donovan received a Higher Diploma in Landscape and Horticultural technology from the Cape University of Technology and his Master in Landscape Architecture degree from the University of Cape Town and is currently engaged in research towards a PhD at UCT on the value and contribution of urban public space to the environmental resilience and liveability of cities.

With a lifelong passion for landscape and urban design, Donovan is uniquely qualified and experienced to explore with you and your team how we create an enhanced user experience in leisure, retail, urban and landscape environments and collaborate together to build our common future.




Extract from a paper to be presented at the Institute of Landscape architecture of South Africa ‘s ILASA 2016 Conference:


Ecologists currently describe landscape as a space of flows with its actor-networks in a constant state of flux. Everything in the world is moving, embodying energy that can be harvested and converted to another form of energy by slower moving actors for example, plants (photosynthesis), wind turbines or photovoltaic cells stored in the carbohydrates of food, batteries and water towers or thermal energy stored in concrete or rock as geothermal energy. It is therefore possible to measure any landscape in terms of its potential to harvest energy or value, in these and other forms i.e. from cultural, social and economic flows and to rate its actual energy/value performance in relation to its energy potential. This utilitarian approach to landscape design risks losing sight of landscape values such as beauty, equity and similar anthropocentric values. This paper explores the published literature about ways to balance these concerns. The application of this approach to public space design and management is particularly impacted by an engagement with urban political ecology and its concern with equity and the rights to the city and also the potential impact that natural and economic changes and disasters have on those who are weakest, the urban poor. Avenues for research on the application of these concepts to local landscape and urban design are suggested. (Donovan Gillman September 2016)


Culemborg, Cape Town: Masters Thesis Ecological Systems Proposal (Donovan Gillman 2010)


Urban Choreography’s advanced Integral Design Methods create enhanced environments and results in improved ROI (Return On Investment)

  • EXCITING USER EXPERIENCE – WOW (World of Wonder)  – in any physical space; leisure, retail, urban or landscape environment.
  • ENHANCED VALUE to all stakeholders by:
  • Sustainable Systems – Integral Ecological; Social, Cultural & Economic balance
  • User Attraction
    • Improved customer segregation & targeting
    • Increased footfall due to attraction, configuration & integration
    • Improved habitability leads to greater customer satisfaction
    • Greater safety and security due to co-presence and interaction
    • Improved visit duration & higher spend
    • Increased loyalty, return visits & word of mouth referrals
paarl-arboretum-analysiPaarl Arboretum, Western Cape: Urban Design & Landscape Framework | Analysis and Informants (OvP & Urban Choreography 2015)
  • Asset Enhancement
    • Long-term capital enhancement by careful planning of the development and release of a sites opportunity over its entire life cycle to maximize and return on Investment.
    • Tenant demand; due to high footfall and improved buying patterns leads to increased demand for space and therefore increased rents.
    • Mixed use with user segmentation, leads to improved spatial utilization and performance
    • Management and ownership planning to optimize the short, medium and long term sustenance of the site through communities of Interest based entities, cooperative and participatory management boards, public-private partnerships, joint property owners associations, and other similar site management strategies
  • Lower media, advertising, public relations, security and management costs through user engagement, participation and involvement.


Nodal Development Cycle applied to Tygervalley Shopping Centre Node, Bellville Cape Town. Diagram from PhD (in progress): Urban Landmark analysis of development impacts on a urban node with my additions in blue showing how value opportunities for public space creation and were not utilized then nor are they being done so now. This is a serious lost opportunity and future public land development needs to utilize these flows of capital and people to benefit the public space and urban livability for all of it inhabitants. (Demacon, Urban Landmark & Donovan Gillman 2013)


Integral analysis and design tools used with targeted research can:

  • Expose hidden opportunities in new and existing environments and generate improved ideas to take advantage of them quickly.
  • Allow modeling and testing of design concepts, formal plans, and management policies before implementation reducing design times and expenses, minimizing costly mistakes and generally improving the chances of successful development outcomes.
  • Provide clear graphic representations and an understandable language to communicate environmental  & spatial information to all parties; stakeholders, authorities, consultants and publics.
  • Create unique, integrated and habitable places that will enhance the experience and desirability of any leisure, retail, urban or landscape environment.
  • Allow comparative performance measurement and evaluation against global benchmarks; allows value enhancement to be understood by international stakeholders, as these measures become accepted and demanded e.g. CO2 footprint, to international performance standards


Paarl Arboretum, Western Cape: Urban Design & Landscape Framework | Key Site Concepts (OvP & Urban Choreography 2015)


Application and development through research and application of advanced evidence based analysis and design tools:

  • Depthmap Space Syntax software from University College of London (UCL Bartlett) to model, analyze and predict spatial relationships and configurations of buildings, local areas and entire urban & city regions. This software tool is based on over 30 years of research and development at UCL and subsequently at many other institutions and private practices around the world.
  • Habitability Index Measurement System from the Barcelona Urban Ecology Unit enables an internationally recognized assessment of key indicators of human comfort, which can readily be translated into design guidelines for specific environments and these in turn, can be measured and contribute to further enhancement over time.


Integral Research Framework: Donovan Gillman’s Master Thesis (Donovan Gillman 2010
  • Ecological Zones: Vision City, Kigali, Rwanda (Urban Choreography 2014)Ecological Footprint is a combined measure of an environment’s CO2; Energy; HHhydrological (water); Waste usage related to the area it occupies. Urban Tissue is a tools for assessing the ecological and energy potential of a site and has been developed using the work of Ecologist Barry Gasson at UCT as well as the American Society of Landscape Architects (ASLA) Sustainable Sites Program which is an extension of the LEED Building Efficiency rating system and the local GBSA Green Star program which focuses more on buildings at this stage.
  • IDEO Human Centered Design Kit is a participative design toolkit developed by IDEO, one of the worlds foremost design practices, for the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation to facilitate participative design and stakeholder buy-in.  While this was designed for the involvement in design process in poverty stricken areas, the tool kit was developed from over 25 years of IDEO’s in-house design collaboration process, and is with some adaptation, easily applicable to urban and retail participation and user involvement.
  • Ecological Landscape and Planting Design System: Advanced design and planning tools for site landscape design and management to ensure sustainability and resilience i.e. survival of fragile landscape and urban spaces:


Ecological Zones: Vision City, Kigali, Rwanda (Urban Choreography 2014)

Extract from a paper presented at the International Federation of Landscape Architects; IFLA 2014 Conference: Innovation in ecological landscape and planting design: A process for abstracting native plant communities for use in landscape and planting design

A process is detailed and developed from ecological design precedent that the author proposes as an alternative method to the traditional or currently prevalent landscape architecture practice of combining plant material into an assemblage based on the individual designers preferences, to fit a predetermined design outcome or individual’s style. The alternative process builds on current site and user analysis methods and expands these to include analysis of local models drawn from ecological vegetation types of the locality and its associated region and from an in-depth study of plant community associations, as well as combining these with the potential for local and large scale eco-system services that can be provided by the sites ecological design. From the site analysis a mass/space or zoning plan is derived and plant palettes from the regional plant material study are chosen to fill the habitat requirements of the zoning plan. Through abstraction or simplification of these plant palettes a design form is synthesized through the designers experience and knowledge into a final design. Examples of the application of the process from the authors practice in Cape Town, Gauteng and Rwanda illustrate the usefulness of the method for localising and enhancing the Genus Loci of landscape and planting design as well as improving its long term sustainability and ecological resilience. The developments and transmittal of this process and method has great practical application in education and praxis of suitable and resilient landscape and planting design fro any place and enhances the designers ability to translate local expertise to another time and place with which (s)he is less familiar. (Donovan Gillman August 2014)


Graphic Configuration Model: Master Thesis (Donovan Gillman 2010)



Century City Intaka Island Wetlands; Monex, Gibb Africa and Blue Lagoon Environments An early application of SUDS principles to create functioning ecosystems that enhance value and user experiences (Donovan Gillman 2012)


Century City Canals; Monex, Gibb Africa and Blue Lagoon Environments. An early application of SUDS principles to create functioning ecosystems that enhance value and user experiences (Donovan Gillman 2012)


Ratanga Junction at Century City, Monex, Gibb Africa, Blue Lagoon Environments. Ecological services, land value creation and enhanced landscaping create an enhanced user experience out of environmental and ecological constraints (Donovan Gillman 1998)


Bougainvillas Residential Estate, SUDS water feature , Century City, Cape Town; Rabie Properties, Planning Partners and Roomtogrow . Further application of SUDS principles to create functioning ecosystems that enhance value and user experiences (Donovan Gillman 2012)


Paarl Arboretum, Western Cape: Urban Design & Landscape Framework | Draft Framework Plan (OvP & Urban Choreography 2015)paarl-arboretum-arboretum-village
Paarl Arboretum, Western Cape: Urban Design & Landscape Framework | Draft Framework Plan (OvP & Urban Choreography 2015)


The Conradie Better Living Model Exemplar Project “BLMEP” Pinelands, Cape Town (ARG, OvP & Urban Choreography 2016)


The Conradie Better Living Model Exemplar Project “BLMEP” Pinelands, Cape Town (ARG, OvP & Urban Choreography 2016)


The Conradie Better Living Model Exemplar Project “BLMEP” Pinelands, Cape Town (ARG, OvP & Urban Choreography 2016)


The Conradie Better Living Model Exemplar Project “BLMEP” Pinelands, Cape Town (ARG, OvP & Urban Choreography 2016)



“Westcliff” Spaanschemat River Road,Constantia 7806, South Africa



Cell +27 (0)82 4474365

Phone +27 (0)21 797 8975







Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s