• Staff writer


The first biophilic building in Africa has been launched in Bree Street, Cape Town. The Fynbos, currently in the process of achieving green star certification from the GBCSA, will have several sustainability features, but at its core is the biophilic concept which integrates nature into an urban setting. Biophilic design is an approach to architecture that connects closely to nature, incorporating aspects such as natural lighting and ventilation, natural landscape features and other elements that create a healthier built environment. Climate control will be provided by natural layers, with exterior plantings having a cooling effect to provide shade and screening.

The exterior of the building will be draped in a vertical garden made up of 30 species of indigenous plants and 20 shrub species. The system was designed by a specialist team of technical botanists headed up by Donovan Gillman of Urban Choreography, who has many years of experience with growing plants in difficult locations across Africa. He says that a specific configuration of vegetation and a highly technical water and nutrient system will monitor growth through automated root scanners, as well as monitored water content and drainage. The entire system will be supported by ‘flying’ gardeners who will manage maintenance externally.

The schematic for how the plants will be placed across the structure follows the example of Table Mountain, with trees at the base and lower profile shrubs and cascading plants towards the top. Trees will be anchored in place to survive strong winds, and a wind study identified crevices where more elaborate planters can be sheltered.

Various experts in their fields have been brought on board to make The Fynbos possible, including the botanist, architects, landscape architect, engineers and sustainability experts.


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