A global attitude shift occurred during the 15th century that changed the relationship between man and its natural environment. This shift was brought by the Renaissance world view, where man is superior to nature and all that makes up natural systems. Only the aspects of nature that proves useful to the existence of humans are preserved or ‘protected’ (Lyle 1994: IX). The industrial revolution further exacerbated the shift by enabling mass production of products and machinery, leading directly to mass degradation of the natural environment. John Tillman Lyle, in his book ‘Regenerative design for sustainable development’ (1994:8) mentions that: “The problem is not our effect on the environment so much as it is our relationship with the environment”. In other words, to mitigate the problem it would be necessary for humans to gain a deeper understanding of nature’s complex and intricate systems. This understanding of nature can be used to gain new knowledge to govern the manner in which man addresses his immediate context. This dissertation attempts at highlighting the major differences that exist between man and its natural environment, by proposing alternatives to the current mindset of people. The aim is to uncover ways in which man and its natural environment can be merged once again, as Laugier (1755) described it, by introducing architecture to act as the intermediary force. Ultimately the dissertation will propose a solution as to how the lost connection between man and nature can be re-established, with the focus being on urban river systems. This dissertation critically examines Regenerative theory in conjunction with Phenomenology; with regenerative theory acting as the main driver to rejuvenate the site (and governing regenerative processes) and phenomenology acting as the mediating force between man and nature through lived experiences. Thus, architecture will create a physical and metaphysical link between the urban construct, man and nature; reuniting the human and natural realms once again. Centurion Lake will provide the necessary milieu where these theories can be tested and examined in the hope to inspire positive actions for future interventions. The design intervention proposes to rejuvenated the polluted state of Centurion Lake by incorporating a silt trap as an integral part of the design. The silt trap (located within the river) is used to extract valuable ‘resources’ from the river, namely; plastic debris, silt/sediments, and water. Waste is therefore rather viewed as a resource and is processed and formed into a viable product for monitory gain. Plastic debris is processed and formed into plastic furniture, sold and distributed over the land. This process is much more environmentally friendly compared to the current state of affairs; which include plastic waste being taken to landfill sites. Sediments in the form of silt is extracted and used as an additive to vermicompost or alternatively as an enriching agent to silt bricks- which in turn is used in the construction of
the intervention. The river-water (free from any plastic and silt) is extracted and purified to the extent of use in urban agriculture and the vermiculture beds. The processes that are used to rehabilitate Centurion Lake will be made completely visible via an existential experience on a pedestrian promenade. Phenomenology, and the aspect of visual contact, haptic materiality and touch, water and light are used to connect the users with the processes to truly enable them to engage with the processes and the issues that fuels the project. In conclusion, this ‘process transparency’ of the project aims to create a new-found awareness of the neglected and abused state of urban rivers and tries to reconnect humanity with his natural counterpart. The dissertation proposes design options that reveals ways in which river spaces interact with the riverscape and in addition indicates how flood prevention mechanisms could be designed to enable the users to interact with the water as opposed to avoiding the beauty that nature provides in its domain.
Mini Dissertation (MArch (Prof))--University of Pretoria, 2018.