Traditionally cultural landscape of the past involved a dialogue between natural system, human modifications and the value given by humans to the landscape, ultimately nurturing a healthy interaction between human and natural systems. Development pressures on remnants of these past harmonious cultural landscapes threatens the memory and therewith the future possibility of this healthy interaction. With looming exponential urban growth in African cities in the near future, it is important to learn from and protect the few past remnants that are left. The main question that was explored in the dissertation is how a degraded cultural landscape can be regenerated to establish social and ecological health. The hypothesis proposed that degraded cultural landscapes can be regenerated using principles of past cultural landscapes that can reconnect fragmented human and natural systems. A degraded cultural landscape settled against the backdrop of the Witwatersberg Ridge served as the location for the testing of the hypothesis. This site, situated near Danville and Lotus Gardens in Pretoria West is a former leprosy colony called Fort West. The aim of the dissertation was to find methods for the regeneration of the degraded cultural landscape.It was proposed that an integrated methodology be followed that brings together a site’s cultural, natural and economic ‘capital’ or latent potential. The integration of these three capitals was proposed in two ways: through applying five principles of ecological design as set out by Van der Ryn and Cowan (1996); and by raising awareness and educating society and the community as proposed by Farina (2000). This process delivered a set of design guidelines for degraded cultural landscapes. The approach matches biological diversity with cultural diversity, ensuring that that the ecological relevance of a cultural landscape and its capacity to inform and guide other human activities are met. The design intervention was applied at three different scales: framework, master plan and sketch plan. Interventions are proposed at each scale that can improve the natural and social health of Fort West. The cultural, natural and economic capital of the site is harnessed by reconnecting past and existing potential in these three fields and integrating proposed natural and cultural systems in this way. Education and awareness is at the forefront of all proposed interventions. In this way a public space that facilitates the reintroduction of biodiversity and also assists in the regeneration of the Fort West community can be established.
Dissertation ML(Prof)--University of Pretoria, 2013