Mitchells Plain Hospital Landscape

Overall score: 54%

Located at the northern point of the Cape Flats Aquifer (CFA) this site drains stormwater to recharge the aquifer sustainably, while providing an indigenous healing landscape for the Mitchells Plain Hospital.

The site is testament to adaptation by engineers and landscape architects to create a water sensitive landscape, beautifully.

Who’s involved?
Tarna Klitzner Landscape Architect
Cape Contours Landscape Solutions (CCLS)
Client: Department of Transport and Public Works – Health

More info:
Top landscape award for Mitchells Plain (IOL)
Cape Town Green Map
Western Cape Government

How does it compare with the 17 Principles?

0 – Does not address this at all / unknown
1 – Potential to address this, but currently unaddressed
2 – The design addresses this, implementation can do more
3 – Integrated in the project, good implementation.

A. Regenerative Water Services:

A.1. Replenish Waterbodies and Their Ecosystems: 3. Stormwater recharge into aquifer.
A.2. Reduce the Amount of Water and Energy Used: 3. Waterwise indigenous vegetation.
A.3. Reuse, Recover, Recycle 3. Local rocks were re-used, plants were sourced and propagated from the site.
A.4. Use a Systemic Approach Integrated with Other Services: 3. Design incorporated sound engineering principles, and was appropriate to the healing landscape of the hospital.
A.5. Increase The Modularity of Systems and Ensure Multiple Options: 2. Multiple avenues for stormwater ingress as well as engineering required overflow grates.

Comment: What is the potential for the hospital’s operation to become more water sensitive?

B. Water Sensitive Urban Design:

B.1. Enable Regenerative Water Services: 3. Through the infiltration and the sandy underlying soil, the water is treated as it moves towards the aquifer.
B.2. Design Urban Spaces to Reduce Flood Risks 3. Reducing flood risk was central to this project’s design, through both the landscape architecture and the engineering ‘back-up’ infrastructure.
B.3. Enhance Liveability With Visible Water: 2. Being in a water scarce environment with high wind makes it hard to make water visible, along with concerns for safety.
B.4. Modify and Adapt Urban Materials to Minimise Environmental Impact: 2. Materials were sourced from site where possible for the landscape. Unknown about the actual building.

C. Basin Connected Cities:

C.1. Plan to Secure Water Resources and Mitigate Drought: 1. Drought mitigation through indigenous plants and aquifer recharge. Unknown site-use specific measures.
C.2. Protect the Quality of Water Resources: 0. Unknown.
C.3. Prepare for Extreme Events: 0. Unknown.

D. Water-Wise Communities:

D.1. Empowered Citizens:  0. unknown, is the local community and hospital management involved?
D.2. Professionals Aware of Water Co-Benefits: 0. Unknown.
D.3. Transdisciplinary Planning Teams: 2. The project addressed this, but continuing maintenance is uncertain.
D4. Policy Makers Enabling Water Wise Action: 0. Unknown. Has this project promoted policy change?
D.5. Leaders that Engage and Engender Trust: 0. Unknown.

Overall score: 54%

More info on what the criteria mean: The IWA 17 principles
Comments on this case study: Contact us

Please note: The aim of AquaSavvy is for the case studies to improve over time, along with educating the wider public. This scoring can, and should, improve with more information and more intervention.

I don’t want to stay grubby forever!

Or, what does the new normal really look like?

I was at a dinner party recently, and the conversation inevitably turned to the current water situation. People were comparing how we manage to stay clean. Some of us choose to shower less often, but when we shower it’s a nice one, while others prefer a daily rub down. One person asked with exasperation, are we going to have to stay grubby forever? Is this how we are going to live forever?

The question caused a bit of silence, followed by the jokes that dinner parties exist for – to give us some light reprieve from the daily struggles. But it stayed with me and I want to try answer it here.

My answer is yes and no. Yes, some things have to change – for example how and what we plant. We need to rethink lawns, for example. Lawns in shared spaces like public parks I believe is justified, but at household level I would rather argue for indigenous, drought tolerant plants. The Cape Green Forum, a business network for landscapers and similar peoples recently (August 2017) hosted a workshop resulting in a website to assist with planting guides, for example: the Cape Resilient Landscaping Forum.

But also, no. We need to find better ways to supply water for the things we need – like proper showers. We need water to thrive, and having a strained relationship with how much we are allowed to use does little with keeping us well-balanced. Finding ways to improve our relationship with water is key to Water Sensitive Design, and as individuals we can help explore this. This is rewarded in the AquaSavvy campaign through category 1: Individual actions and retrofitting existing buildings.

We need to change how we think about water, we need to make it more visible to our daily lives, at all levels. The new normal demands us to be conscious about our water use, but this does not need to be a restrictive consciousness. Let’s find new ways to thrive!

The featured image is of an artpiece by Daniela Forti.