This post briefly looks at the symbiotic relationship between landscape and architecture, by looking at affordable housing and public spaces in South Africa.

ACG has learned throughout its projects on affordable housing, that outside spaces are often regarded as service areas, where landscaping interventions are often planned but not incorporated, resulting in buildings seemingly placed in a ‘sea of nothingness’. This results in environments lacking the musical quality derived from a harmonious integration of landscape and architecture. However, when applied, this music expresses itself in the form of patterns, that are what we look for to make sense of the environment. In design, it helps to create spaces that are holistic and allow the user to subliminally picks up the rhythm of the building and ground. When designed together it can be soothing and uplifting. Urban design, uses the horizontal plane: the placement of houses in a street to create those pinched neighbourhood entrances that then widen to create play spaces and parking courts; the hierarchy of spaces that determine the most important spaces in a neighbourhood.

In the Delft Siversands Housing Development Project (images above), rhythm is created around pedestrian movement routes and public spaces. Building are placed to ensure narrow pedestrian scale routes, reinforcing the idea of car free spaces and usage of public areas. Planting creates shades and softens

Although still under construction, the implementation as a whole of both architecture and landscape projects will be essential in achieving the desired result: a development where outside living is as important as inside, and special attention is given to public spaces that enhance community living.

This housing development in Morningstar, Cape Town (images above), has been planned around courtyards designated as public open space. The scale of the courts are small enough for the space to be intimate while the positioning of the buildings is quite close to the front boundary which ensures passive surveillance from three sides.

There is a relationship between the scale of the building and the court in which it sits. Similarly there is a pattern set up for the elements of the landscape design, informing placement of the trees and the seating. Low boundary walls add to the idea of having a low seat wall along the perimeter of the courts. Organic patterns used in the paving, soften the aesthetic of the hard landscape, drawing the pedestrian in.

“All of Halprin’s designs reflect this passion to give people as many options as possible to go this way or that, to reverse directions, to pause, to start over, to be alone, to meet others, and to experience as many different sights, smells and sounds as the site permits,” Mr Forgey wrote in The Smithsonian in 1988.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.