Constructing Africa’s first Cremnophyte wall within the world renowned Kirstenbosch National Botanical Garden was a welcomed challenge for our team at AR Projects. The garden is one of South Africa’s most visited attractions, inviting over 1 million visitors to its wide variety of unique plant life of the Cape.
We were entrusted to build a wall for plants which make cliffs their sole habitat. These types of plants are known as cremnophytes. The cremnophyte wall is built in the Botanical Conservatory, a uniquely built glasshouse designed to keep vegetation dry.
The 4.5 meter wall was constructed with naturally formed rock. Our team sourced various types of rocks from the Western Cape, Northern Cape and parts of the Eastern Cape which could not be blasted or excavated. These varieties consisted of different types of shale sandstone, quartzite, naturally formed slate amongst others. A number of these rocks needed to have naturally formed pockets which would later become the cremnophytes home. Even the walk path was designed to feel as if you were walking in the forest.
Our most sizeable challenge was to recreate a favourable cremnophyte environment.
After sourcing rock and stone our team needed to ideate as to how the wall would be held together. Conventional building methods could not be used, we created solutions which continually had the health and safety of the vegetation in mind. Irrigation was another important factor. A featured wet cliff section formed part of the wall which required us to take certain aspects into consideration. We had to identify the correct soil compositions to house the cremnophyte plant life.
The soil not only needed to be life sustaining, but it also needed to be strong enough to sustain the irrigation water flow pressures, so not break apart or cause build up within the filtration system. Sunlight was another challenge which required specialized protective blinds to be manufactured for the cremnophyte plant life in summer. Refurbishment of the steel structures within the Botanical Conservatory was done as well. Various methods and materials which were environmentally friendly, long lasting and durable had to be used.
The cremnophyte wall installation was an exciting and challenging project. With a strong vision and our client focused approach, we built a one of a kind ecosystem which will be enjoyed by millions of visitors and will be a home for many plant life.