©GREENinc Landscape Architecture + Urbanism
GREENinc is an award-winning landscape architecture and urbanism consulting studio based in Johannesburg, South Africa which was founded in 1995 – just a year after the birth of democracy in South Africa and at the beginning of a new era for landscape architecture internationally.
The studio has had the opportunity to work on a wide range of landscape typologies, in varied environments and with diverse end user groups. The language and form of the finished product varies greatly, but underlining it all is a passion and desire to create spaces which are deeply connected to their position in space and time. Spaces that reconnect people to the rich cultural and ecological heritage that has been layered over time into the fabric of the place. What the architects have found in almost every place is that very little needs to be done to showcase the beauty of what already is.
They strongly believe that less is more. Therefore, their focus centres on creating spaces that are inclusive; improve wellbeing; and give meaning to people’s lives. Spaces which show great respect for the complexity and interconnectivity of the built and natural environment. As a practice they approach projects from two angles: place (site) and people (users). They believe in an integrated approach, involving all stakeholders and professionals in the design process from the start. This most often results in collaborations with artists, ecologists, urban planners and the average person. In doing so they create a purposeful discourse between human activities, city landscape and ecological systems – which ultimately manifests in the deliberate celebration of our natural heritage.
Sir Geoffrey Jellicoe, largely through his book “The Landscape of Man,” Kathryn Gustafson – I often quote her “if you can see sky, then it’s mine” line; and Stephen Stimson for his understated style and materials.
Jan Gehl has been one of my greatest influences. Although he is an Urban Designer and not a Landscape Architect, his work on understanding how cities should be designed has greatly influenced the way I understand spaces for people
Many gardens have changed my life, if subtly, but the Japanese garden at Brenthurst changed my feelings about Cynodon too!
I’m particularly drawn to productive landscapes. Their relationship between form and function give them a simple beauty that is not easily matched by complex urban gardens. The wine farms of The Cape Region in South Africa have played a big role in how I approach landscape design
Maropeng Stone Garden
Maropeng Stone Park is located at the Maropeng Visitor Centre, in the Cradle of Humankind (a UNESCO World Heritage Site), outside of Johannesburg, South Africa. It is an extension to the existing museum complex and includes an outdoor exhibition space, amphitheatre and picnic facilities. The design was informed by the theme of human impact and aims to challenge typical museum mechanisms of explanation. Human impact is portrayed by two carefully placed stone narratives within the space: a sculpture representing an oversized, archaeological stone tool, and a contemporary stone seating arc.
To the north, a sheltered oval lawn for picnics and events, is embraced by a curved line of trees. They form a protective threshold, but also allow for framed views towards the Tumulus (museum) and the untouched grassland surrounding it. The southern edge is enclosed by a sculpted earth embankment which can be utilised as an amphitheatre for outdoor events. The formal planting of several small tree “cathedrals,” create protected pockets of calmness in an otherwise windswept landscape.
The planting palette reflects and complements the biodiversity of the Bankenveld vegetation type in which the site is situated. Intensive planting is restricted to the outside of the earth embankment, where the closely planted trees will grow into a small forest; the temporary flowering annuals will be overtaken by indigenous grasses – eventually the natural landscape and the insertions will be woven together.
Over time, the human impact on this site can be erased by natural decay and growth. Thus, the remains of the stone narratives and the tree “cathedrals” become the sole evidence of human interference – much like the stone tools used by our forebearers millennia ago.
Nelson Mandela Children's Hospital
The landscape design of this 200-bed, specialist paediatric and academic tertiary referral hospital, is firmly based on the concept and principles of therapeutic landscape design. Therapeutic landscapes are purposely designed to allow patients and visitors of all abilities (disabled, abled, young, and old) to interact with nature.
The key areas of the landscape design have specific functions that relate to the programming of the hospital, including psychological, physical and play therapies.
The external hospital landscape was designed as a series of gardens which appeal to adults and children of all ages. The Arrival Court is a person’s first impression of the hospital, therefore a welcoming experience with colourful signage, seating and flowering plants was created. The Visitor Garden, provides a continuation of this welcoming experience – it includes a café terrace overlooking a circular pond, informal seating and a large lawn area. A narrow water channel connects the café terrace with the Children’s Garden. In this space, young visitors have access to numerous play elements. The Sensory (Horticultural Therapy) Garden and Occupational Therapy Garden provide an outdoor venue for the therapy programmes offered by the hospital.
The three active courtyards include the Day Garden – a small courtyard garden close to the reception area which invites visitors into a forest-like setting. The Play Garden is divided into a lower and upper terrace where the lower trace continues the forest-like setting, while the upper terrace is a multi-functional activity space. The Family Garden is also divided into a lower and upper area and contains benches tiled with colourful mosaics, loose furniture and shade canopies which create a comfortable experience for patients and visitors.