This thesis explores the role of water in urban landscape architectural design and identifies strategies that will conserve and optimise the use of water in the built environment. This is done through selecting a site in Pretoria at the intersection of the Apies River channel and Nelson Mandela drive and designing an Urban Water Centre that explores; exposes and celebrates water in the urban context. The design creates opportunities for kids from nearby schools, students from TUT, residents from the area, pedestrians and tourists to interact on a physical and emotional level with water. Educating people about water conservation is an important aspect of the project and raising awareness is the first step. The design addresses the city-wide need for green public open space and provides opportunities for urbanites to connect with water and the Apies River. This connection is established through the facilitation of significant encounters with water. These include physical contact play with water, creating interest and anticipation around rain events and through translating some of the associated attributes of water into a solid surface. The design approach is influenced by studying the Sustainable Sites Initiative’s ecosystem service approach. Green Star SA is investigated for a possible application to landscape architecture. The findings from the Sustainable Sites Initiative are enhanced by General Systems Theory and then used to generate systems that supports the desired experiences. The first and largest system lifts some of the base flow from the Apies River channel with a waterwheel, where after it is purified in a constructed wetland and a chlorine-free disinfecting process. The clean water is then displayed in a play pond that partially drains through a gravity driven vortex generator. The vortex generator aerates and cools down the water while adding movement; sound and a sense of the passage of time to the human experience. From the vortex, water flows into a constructed pebble lined stream that children can play in and experience stream ecology. The pebbles and vegetation refers back to the Apies River before it was lined with concrete. From the stream the water rejoins the channel. The second on site water system addresses rainwater. The design creates anticipation and curiosity associated with rain events. Rainwater from one of the on site buildings are harvested and displayed in a rain-meter garden. A first-flush system intercepts the first dirty water where after it drizzles down a rain-curtain into a rain-meter system. The rain-meters are large bullet resistant glass tank-like containers, calibrated to show how many millimetres of rain have fallen during the shower. A rain-sensor drains the water into a temporary wetland and lets in percolate into the underground storage tank. The third on site water system treats grey water from buildings through a stepped constructed wetland and displays the cleaned water in a jubilant motion activated display at one of the pedestrian entrances. Water from the rain-meter system; the grey water system and harvested surface runoff all contributes towards meeting the water needs of irrigation and buildings. Other eco-system service strategies identified in the study are applied in the design. These include the protection of on site biomass along with the introduction of region appropriate planting; design for- and use of waste reducing materials and the integration of on site systems to enrich the experience. Copyright
Dissertation (ML(Prof))--University of Pretoria, 2009.