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Africa’s first truly biophilic building

by Madelein
Africa’s first truly biophilic building

The Fynbos is a 24-storey living, breathing and new mixed-use development in the heart of the Mother City (Cape Town), but what makes it unique is that it is Africa’s first biophilic development.

As the first truly biophilic living structure on the continent, The Fynbos – which is currently in the process of achieving Green Star certification from the Green Building Council of South Africa – will have several innate sustainability features built into it from inception ,” says Paul Upton, head of developments at Dogon Group Properties, who are the marketing agents for The Fynbos. He explains that the biophilic concept centres on integrating nature into an urban setting.

One of the most exceptional sustainable design features at The Fynbos is its exterior, which is draped in a 1 200m² vertical garden made up of 30 species of indigenous trees and 20 species of shrubs. The pioneering garden system at The Fynbos was meticulously designed and executed by a specialist team of technical botanists. They were headed up by Donovan Gillman of Urban Choreography, who has over 45 years’ experience with growing plants in difficult locations across Africa.

Biophilic design coming to life

Upton said that biophilic design is an approach to architecture that looks to connect building occupants more closely to nature. Biophilic buildings incorporate things such as natural lighting and ventilation, natural landscape features and other elements to create a more productive and healthier built environment. The building’s climate control, which was designed by architects TwentyEightZeroTwo, will be provided by natural layers, with exterior plantings having a cooling effect to provide shade and screening.

“Vegetation is an absorptive barrier that assists in natural noise reduction. Plants also absorb harmful chemicals and clean the air. Water efficiency at The Fynbos will be improved through low-flow fittings, well-point filtration and a sophisticated rainwater harvesting system that is integrated into the unique cantilevered and staggered balcony design,” comments Upton.

Integrated PV and double glazing

“Tastefully integrated photovoltaic (PV) solar panels will generate double the electricity quota needed to power the common areas, which is minimising the fossil fuel consumption, and a central heated water system allows for economies of scale and avoids individual geysers. These energy savings will be passed back to the owners through reduced levies.

“Expansive windows and glass sliding doors, utilising specialised double glazing and overlooking panoramic views of the mountain and city, will allow in abundant natural light. The double glazing reduces the amount of energy spent on heating in the winter and acts as a sound softener,” he says.

Specialised vegetation and configuration

Gillman explains that a specific configuration of vegetation and a highly technical water and nutrient system, which will monitor growth through automated root scanners, as well as monitored water content and drainage, will be supported by “flying” gardeners who will manage maintenance externally.

Being 100% indigenous to the Cape, each plant at The Fynbos is considered for its aesthetics and resilience. The look is green, leafy and geometric. 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. Inside views are tidy and neat, while outside the canopy will drape the entire building.

The technical detailing is based on lessons from international precedent and biophilic research. The trees are anchored in place to survive gusts. Bigger planters contain root spread and effectively “bonsai” the trees. A wind study identified crevices where more elaborate planters can be sheltered.

Sustainability meets iconic architecture

The Fynbos will feature 689 apartments, including a rooftop sunset terrace with a lap pool and co-working space, a rooftop fitness centre and a ground-floor, plant-based restaurant with a tearoom and botanical bar.

Sustainability has become increasingly vital, and The Fynbos blends best-of-breed sustainability principles with iconic architecture and on-trend detailing – designed to be extraordinary in every way. Various experts in their fields were brought on board to make The Fynbos possible. The botanist, architects, landscape architect, engineers and sustainability experts have joined forces to give birth to this exceptional development, which will redefine inner-city living for Cape Town, South Africa and Africa as a whole.

The Fynbos, once complete, will be a living, breathing building which blurs the lines between nature and the built environment. It is in the beating heart of Cape Town amidst some of the trendiest boutiques, eateries, galleries, theatres and bars; and is only a few minutes from the V&A Waterfront, Green Point Stadium and Atlantic Seaboard beaches.

For more information, visit www.thefynbos.com.

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