Landscape architecture is one of the many sectors in the built environment that is exploring ways to mitigate the challenges of expanding urbanisation and address the issue of global warming. Taking on these challenges is Stuart Kelley, a landscape architect and recent graduate of the University of Cape Town (UCT), who received Corobrik’s Most Innovative Final Year Landscape Architecture Award for his concept of urban greening.

The annual award is given to the landscape architecture student with the most innovative dissertation, with external examiners assessing the project concept, searching for a new idea that spark interest rather than just focussing on the student achieving the top mark. Kelly, who grew up on a farm in Creighton, KwaZulu-Natal, drew on his farming background for his project site, which was the pedestrian routes leading up to Mowbray transport hub because, once greened, they could expand creating corridors of “green lungs” between the mountains and river. His work involved identifying trees or green pockets, erf access points, surface run-off and drainage opportunities, shaded zones, wind shelter and rainwater harvesting options, among others.

Kelly’s dissertation investigates how to encourage natural growth in the urban area by developing the sub-terrain. “Grafting” in the horticulture world refers to the combining of two different plants with similar genetic makeup to create a modified plant type. Kelly’s dissertation looks at grafting various soil types, as opposed to plants, to create a diverse landscape that caters for various plant types because of the different soil conditions.

“The sub-terrain is the foundation for plant growth, however, soils found within the urban environment have been negatively impacted and altered by human activity resulting in poor structure and depleted soils. The aim of the project was to redesign the area where plants grow along prominent routes leading to Mowbray’s transport hub,” said Stuart.

Second place winner, fellow architectural landscape student Saudah Asmal, submitted a dissertation that focused on Cape Town’s primary farming area with the idea of consolidating environmental, agricultural and development forces to support one another, resulting in the protection of all food and water resources in the area.

“I believe that ensuring protection and sustainability of this marginalised area and its people is necessary to safeguard against food insecurity in the city,” said Saudah.

Corobrik’s Manager Western Cape, Christie van Niekerk, says the 2016 projects show how upcoming students are using knowledge learnt to improve the lives of those around them.

“We feel that these transformative ideas on mitigating the devastating effects of climate change and ensuring food sustainability for impoverished members of the community are important to support and nurture,” concludes Christie.

For more information, contact Corobrik on Tel: +27 (11) 871 8600 or via www.corobrik.co.za.