It is inspirational to see how well we are able to meet the mandate for the Chelsea Flower Show in London this May. The theme? “In Harmony with Nature”. The Kirstenbosch launch to showcase the design we will be entering for South Africa was exciting and the designers to be highly commended!
David Davidson and Ray Hudson have taken inspiration from our wealth of biodiversity and created a design to successfully showcase our unique local architecture and bio mimicry (nature inspired) design. It shows how we are able to use this amazing landscape and nature to guide us in sustainable design.
The prestigious Chelsea show attracts 150 000 visitors a year and incredibly, in our 39 year history of exhibiting, we have won gold medals 33 times! This year once again, as Dr Tanya Abrahmse, CEO of SANBI says, “we will be going for gold’.
Sustainability practices nurture our natural world
SANBI is geared to respond to the task it has been assigned: that of championing our exceptionally rich, life-sustaining biodiversity through exploration, conservation, sustainable use, appreciation and enjoyment for all South Africans. This has enabled both designers and South Africa as a whole to show how our natural biodiversity inspires design. It features 3 South African projects, which mimic nature in their ability to integrate it into their aesthetic and structural form. This along with implementation of sustainability practices to protect and nurture our beautiful natural world. It also features a tribute to Nelson Mandela – his face mozaiced from protea flower head rosettes against a real stone gabion wall.
The first part of the 5-part design depicts the Kirstenbosch Boomslang Centenary Tree Canopy Walkway transferring ideas from biology to technology. The Forest canopy walkway is based entirely on the serpentine skeleton of a snake. It winds and dips and is, in essence, a highly sophisticated bridge. Every part of it’s complex skeletal design contributes visually to it’s serpentine quality and structurally to the stability of the walkway.
The second habitat is a mountain forest, enabling the designers to take back this snake-like structure to its origins. It shows the representation of a pristine and functional ecosystem, like the mountain ravine habitat Skeleton gorge on Table Mountain, which creates the other half of the walkway – an inverted skeleton of a snake.
The third part of the design showcases the Savanna habitat of the Limpopo Province, with it’s mixed bush veld vegetation. The Mapungubwe National Park and World Heritage Site is located there. It’s Museum and Interpretive Centre used modern developments in structural geometry along with an ancient construction technique to implement a unique and beautiful structure. It is authentically rooted in it’s location and was awarded World Building of the Year in 2009. This display features grassland vegetation, including Xerophyta, aloes and thorn trees as well as a ‘bird’s nest’ hide.
A contemporary fynbos garden will also be part of the design, which has been put in the context of it’s built environment. Cavalli Estate is showcased as a prime example of a very ecologically sensitively managed project. “Cavalli is contributing substantially toward the Botanic Biosphere of the Cape by literally planting thousands of species, which will attract and feed more birds, butterflies, chameleons and other wildlife species endemic to the Cape Region and Floral Kingdom”.
Dr Tanya Abrahmse, CEO of SANBI sees this exhibit as one of the most positive ways of promoting our botanical heritage and the reason why travellers should be choosing to visit our country.
“Chelsea allows us to highlight our ecological infrastructure and this year’s display shows the harmony between nature and architecture. Our eco systems form the basis of life-giving resources and underline the preservation that is vital for the continuation of the human race. The display illustrates this and also underscores our mandate, showing the world our richness in diversity and our commitment to conservation.”
We wish them the best of luck with their participation in London next month.
By Tara Cumming