Ecology + Social diversity

From borders to bridges, Cape Town

Cape Town faces many problems due to the ‘urban sprawl’. H+N+S developed a densification strategy for the city in which a multifunctional and accesible park forms the basis. This new park landscape connects and stimulates the city’s diversity.


Within the scope of ‘Cape Town World Design Capital 2014’ an open call was published to participate in the ‘Density Syndicate’ think-tank. The question was to explore the possibilities with regard to city densification in order to prevent a further ‘urban sprawl’ (and the associated adverse effects) and to utilize the qualities of the city.

Our regeneration strategy focuses on connections, ecology, and diversity

The ‘Two Rivers Urban Park’ is a large green area in the centre of Cape Town where the contaminated Liesbeek river and Black River converge. During the Apartheid era this area was used as a ‘buffer zone’ to separate various population groups in Cape Town. Our regeneration strategy focuses on connections, ecology and diversity. Consequently, a new park landscape is formed which gives protection against flooding, enhances the ecology in the region, connects the city and increases diversity.



The underlying landscape and water system constitute the basis for design and development; a sound ecological basis. In ‘From borders to bridges’ the spatial organisation of the plan is determined by the frequency of flooding. The river bed is extended as a result of which a reasonable water quality can be maintained. Moreover, maximum efforts are made on infiltration and reusing water. Different water qualities are separated and the water system is integrated in new urban developments. Contaminated water is filtered and recycled naturally.  The river ecology is able to flourish by retaining water as long as possible and discharging it in stages. Consequently the city will have a healthy format for further growth and development of the ecological and social diversity.


The second plan layer consists of removing barriers and creating new connections. The urban districts to the east and west of the park are reconnected and the area is made accessible. Openness and connection are both literally and figuratively vital when removing physical and psychological barriers.


The third strategy is to strive for and stimulate the diversity of functions and income groups. A high density and mixture of functions, mixing different types of houses and a mixture of residents by pursuing a 50% social housing and 50% general market home distribution should ensure that also this part of Cape Town will become vibrant.


Voormalig medewerker Joppe Veul