Eco Park Development

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BRIEF FROM CLIENT

To create a park that caters to a diverse range of residents from first time homeowners to retirement age. Thus there needed to be aspects of play which caters for all ages: shallow river areas for young children, jungle gyms, trampoline, places to climb and crawl and roll, trees to climb… to the bowling green for the over 50’s. A place to unwind and feel ‘in nature’ in a densely populated estate, but also a place to exercise on outdoor gym equipment. Vistas to the beautiful mountains and connections to the other housing precincts. Easy access from all sides and for wheelchair access. The ability to host functions in the heart of the development: thus, the need for adequate power requirements and certain car accessible areas etc. All these elements and needs informed the eventual final design.

Dennis Moss Partnership initiated the planning and liaison with the Wirth family for the Master planning of the Estate and its public open spaces, with special mention of landscape designer: Otilia Gericke -for the original park design. Landscape Architect, Vikki Crawley of Verdigris Consulting has worked in conjunction with Dennis Moss Partnership since then; developing the design concept with a range of consultants and experts.

Initially, the Client, Werner Wirth went through a tendering process in 2015 with Urban Landscape Solutions as the preferred designer and installation. This was paused towards the end 2015; due to time and cash flow constraints as well as the natural effect of the oncoming drought. In early 2016, the approach to the park was revised in conjunction with Style Council’s Exterior Designer, Quentin Mosteyn-Owen to a humancentric and ecological approach which has led to the present design.

The important focus has been on the ecological aspects of the Park driven by Quentin who has designed the river systems and water features. The site was originally a quarry which was then filled in with in-situ material and rubble leaving a difficult site to create the extraordinary water features and river systems there are today. The soil is extremely high in clay content making the excavation work sensitive due to its high-water absorption quality in winter and tendency to be rock hard in summer. There is no naturally occurring stream in this area. The illusion has been created through skilful manipulation of the existing topography and artful creation of a closed system of running streams. Reusing borehole water in a constant cycle from top to bottom of slope. Eventually, as the riparian zone grows and develops, the park will require very little irrigation; as the evaporation and condensation due to the large waterbodies and running water will keep the surrounding vegetation cooler and more water-wise.

The design approach was to look at the psychology of the space with a larger picture overview of what we wanted to create and celebrate. A natural and co-ordinated use of public facilities which blends seamlessly with the beauty of the receiving environment. The landscape here would not have evolved without the passion of all exterior consultants involved. Much time and patience educating the various construction teams about littering and caring for the space as a whole; teaching the current residents to value the outside space even though it has been a frustrating construction zone over the past 3 years. It has been a pleasure to work with the landscape contractor: Brett Chilcott from roomtogrow; he is a nature-enthusiast and nothing is ever too much. This passion and zeal for the landscape is evidenced in the water-wise and indigenous plant palette and mixes which create the colour, texture and softness in the garden areas.

The site is ideally situated with views towards Table Mountain in the western distance and the Stellenbosch mountain peaks ringing the vistas to the east: spectacular sunrises and sunsets. Exterior designers are humancentric in approach and consider the needs of the residents as well as the desire to create natural habitats for bird, insects and aquatic life.

A consequence of this kind of approach -is – an increase in the perceived value of the homes and neighbourhoods directly adjacent to the park and to the development. Nooitgedacht Village has recently been recognised for the lifestyle approach it embodies with an award as South Africa’s best mixed-use property development, 2019. We believe and have reiterated this to the Client – that there is enormous value in developing a public landscape space in this ‘bespoke’ manner. If more Developers focused on enhancing the natural beauty and aspects of a site – they would reap the rewards a hundred-fold as the houses will sell like hot cakes once potential homeowners can see the real aesthetic value in a space. In our opinion, Nature sells far more plots than perfect finishes inside a house…

 

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