For years the University of Cape Town (UCT) rebuffed the suggestion the use of any concrete type product for their garden walls, stairways or retaining structures, instead insisting on the use of natural stone in keeping with the style and character of the campus.
However, they soon came to realize that the use of natural stone was becoming extremely expensive and time consuming and eventually Dave Killa of Force Ten, a Cape Town based Terraforce recommended contractor, managed to demonstrate the advantages of interlocking concrete block systems to the decision makers.
In a short space of time, Force Ten first built a low retaining wall behind a substation with L12 blocks. Next came a flight of stairs from the lower access road to parking area 6, with a combination of Terraforce 4 x 4 step blocks and L12 blocks along both sides. Next, the UCT tennis club had a seating pavilion installed by another recommended installer, Decorton Retaining, using the same combination of blocks, 4 x 4 and L12 blocks.
Most notably however, in 2014, a very unique Terrafix erosion control block project was installed at the Engineering building, as part of refurbishments and building updates at the university. Designed by leading architects, SAOTA, the innovative design called for the construction of a stable slope of Bidim encased cement stabilized sand, clad with Terrafix blocks, and finally finished with a layer of cascading vegetation.
The plant species used were three different types of Indigenous creepers, that offer different growth rates and give quick, medium and long term cover for this wall.
The plants used were:
‘Mile a minute’ quick growing
Flowering Ivy Medium paced grower
Baboon Grape Slower growing, long term cover
To achieve this look of a lush green plinth for the building, as envisioned by SAOTA, landscape architect Megan Anderson proposed the following solution, as demonstrated by the following images:
Project: New Engineering Building UCT
Location: Cape Town, South Africa
Project team: Phillippe Fouché, Stefan Antoni and Michael Wentworth
Installer: Dave Killa, Terrafirma
Completion date: 2014
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