May 2013

Last month I posted a link to an article on a “natural” public swimming pool designed by Herzog and de Meuron being built in Riehen in Switzerland. Also called “swim ponds”, “eco pools” and “bio pools”, they are a niche trend here among people who like to swim with fish, frogs and plants, those who want to spend less on pool chemicals and still others you might expect to find at the organic village market and believe those chemicals might actually be bad for you.Go figure? I remember years ago we found a empty DDT can in the crawl space under the floor in our Emmarentia office. One of the proposed uses listed on the label was to dust one’s underwear with the product to prevent body lice. Presumably dusting oneself with DDT was quite a normal thing to do in the ’40s? Maybe future generations will look back on our lackadaisical attitude to chlorine with amazement similar to ours when we found that can. Either way, a natural swimming pool is a far less visually clinical element in the landscape than a treated one, and we might even come to embrace a little algae too. A local natural pool builder says chemically-treated pools look very strange to him because they don’t have any algae in them. He would like to plant up a pool only with various types of algae. Isn’t acquired taste marvelous? But perhaps that mindset change will take a bit longer for most of us, who grew up with the pristine glare of white marbelite.

James posted an article on travel destinations with stylish green architecture and someone posted a link to a Mr Boom and Ms Dynamite lamp with unfortunate timing. I wonder if it would have seemed in such poor taste if it weren’t for Boston. On the other hand, the cloud that will make you smile couldn’t offend anyone. We also shared some posts by The City Savoy with sketches that Anton did for them and I posted a link to the Urban Farm Unit, an interesting self-contained mobile fresh fish, fruit and veg factory.

’til next time.

April 2013

With the public holidays over the last couple of weeks and many people taking extra leave to maximise their effect – it’s been school holidays too – it seems like it’s been a bit of a mini silly season this last month. Here’s hoping that our Christian and Jewish friends had a wonderful Easter or Pesach this year. April is a beautiful month in so many parts of South Africa, I’m sure we’re going to carry on getting some “out of office” replies in the coming weeks before everyone settles in for the winter. Maybe a bit of extra greenery is what we’ll need to get through the dry winter in this part of the country. How about turning your bathroom into a spa landscape? James posted this interesting planted bathroom. Why hold back on your planted walls? It even has under-floor planting! Also on the Facebook page are four renderings of our project at UNISA, one of which is our new cover photo. And a photo that shows how a creative team can transform something that we have all come to accept as looking the way it looks. It is architects Choi+Shine’s take on the everyday power line pylon – check it out. After seeing this, I think the old kind should be outlawed for being inhuman!


A recent visitor to GREENinc’s office


March 2013

What did the GREENinckers find beautiful or funky this month? The beautiful : Annamari posted an animated artwork created in Tokyo for Finnish TV – it was screened on TV in 5 second slots, but you can gorge yourself on the whole 200 seconds in one go! The funky : Elize found this inflatable bridge with built-in trampolines. It has apparently been built, but I couldn’t find out whether its users are quite as acrobatic as those shown in the graphic. And then there’s an article from Archpaper about Parklets in LA, they’re beautiful AND funky. I posted a link to the Ball-Nogues Studio’s website – they do all sorts : mostly hanging stuff, some shiny stuff and a Janet Jackson video set.

We got published by Taschen – Freedom Park made it into Landscape Architecture Now! Actually, it seems like that came out last year, but they forgot to send us our copy, so we came accross it in Exclusive books looking for student book prizes. UP held their annual student prize-giving early last month, and James handed over the GREENinc prize for the best overall student in the landscape architecture programme in 2011 and 2012 to Dayle Shand. We also got published on Landezine – always an honour – they featured our work at Forum Homini boutique hotel in the Cradle of Humankind.  Coming up on the 27th of this month, Anton will be at Conversations on Architecture at Melrose Arch, get there if you can!

STOP PRESS : PG has just received an e-mail from the Harvard University Graduate School of Design telling him that he has been accepted into their Masters of Landscape Architecture in Urban Design programme. He seems to be having trouble breathing. Wow, PG, are we proud of you!

Some of PG's work for a GREENinc project for Eskom at Megawatt Park

Some of PG’s work on GREENinc’s project for Eskom at Megawatt Park

February 2013

Well, we’re halfway into 2013 – almost – and here is our first newsletter. There wasn’t anything to report on last month because James didn’t go to Australia or anywhere that was worth posting anything from. Nor did anyone, apparently. But things are happening again. Elize posted a rubble mural from Pinterest. There’s also an animation called the ABC of Architects – a (very effective) 1 min 38 second introduction to everyone from Alvo Aalto to Zaha Hadid. Anton posted photos he took of Marco Cianfanelli’s sculpture at Mandela’s capture site near Howick during the break – so someone did go somewhere interesting after all – and an article on biophilic cities from the Landscape Architecture Network. Their T-shirts are also good, I especially like the one below. Click here to order – if you qualify to wear it, of course. Andrew put up a photo of the screens, pergolas and paving slabs going in at Houghton Golf Club. James posted an interactive site with views and sounds from the 68th floor of “the shard” in London and got all nostalgic. There are also graphics from our proposal for incremental site rebahilitation at a biomimicry centre near Knysna – just go to the facebook page.


December 2012

So, what happened in 2012? The design for the landscape at Cecilia Makiwane hospital near East London has metamorphised, the works at Natalspruit hospital have started, those at Zola hospital in Soweto are nearly complete and a clinic in Phalaborwa was completed . The landscape of the next phase of the project at the Houghton golf course has been lovingly detailed and construction is well under way. Work on the memorial projects in Boipatong and for June 16th in Soweto has delayed, but progresses. Also delayed was the Botswana Innovation Hub project in Gabarone, but that too has come back to life. In terms of new projects, some head office refurbishments have come our way, as have exciting projects for UNISA and the University of Pretoria. New projects in Nigeria, Uganda and Kenya have kept Anton on the run. He has recently posted some of the graphic work for those projects. There is also a link to photographer Johann Ryno de Wet’s website and six striking images from his last three exhibitions. And the last post is for a …. mmm, difficult to say – a pillow/eyemask thing. Goodnight. Thank-you to our clients and friends, we wish you everything good during the break and we’ll see you in 2013.

GREENinc and families went up the new Hartbeespoort cableway on Saturday

GREENinc and families went up the new Hartbeespoort cableway on Saturday

November 2012

By far the most fun had by four GREENinckers during office hours in the last month was taking part in the City of Johannesburg Public Transport Challenge on the 17th of October. We met at Park Station at 7am. The Challenge used “Amazing Race” rules, and each team received an envelope with clues to 3 places around Joburg they had to visit using public transport only, or else walk. The organisers had intended to ban the use of minibus taxis (not really public). On the day though, as if planned to give us habitually “car-captive” participants a real taste of the public transport commuting experience, the Rea Vaya (rapid bus system) drivers were on strike, so we were allowed to use taxis after all. Our host, the MMC for Transport, took the competitive edge off our team somewhat by saying that it wasn’t really a race, more an adventure, and announcing that she would only arrive at the Soweto Theatre, our end destination, at 12pm. We walked the couple of blocks to Joubert Park, our first stop (“A park in the CBD where there is a greenhouse”), then walked back and took a Gautrain bus on a route that would take us as far west as we could get to visit the origami pigeon sculpture in Newtown (“real and origami pigeons”). Then we decided we’d better go for breakfast, otherwise we’d end up sitting at the theatre for hours, so we walked accross to Braamfontein and had a leisurely breakfast at Narina Trogon. We then asked our waiter how we should get to Baragwanath Hospital (“largest hospital in Southern Africa”). He told us no problem, just walk one block north, catch a metro bus to Ghandi Square and then another one to Baragwanath. Which we did, but when we got there our bus driver told us there was no bus to Baragwanath, and that we should have told him where we wanted to go when we got on, not at this late juncture. So he got off the bus too, and found us a bus that would take us to the Bree Street taxi rank. Almost everyone we met, with the exception of one taxi driver – more about him later – was extremely helpful, even if the directions they were giving us were totally wrong. Commuting humour, perhaps? Anyway, we got to Bree Street and were met by more friendly, helpful people who guided us to the right taxi. By the way, Flo says all this friendliness was definitely not normal, but neither was the site of four white guys in the rank, I suppose. We discovered that it’s much nicer being inside one of these babies than sharing the road with it in a car. We had a comfortable ride to Baragwanath, and were dropped of right outside. Then we walked accross the road to the Bara transport hub, and after being sent from one end of the building to the other a few times (ha ha!) found another taxi to take us to Jabulani Mall. This time the driver wasn’t shaken out of his normal disposition by the four of us. After we’d dropped everyone elso off, we were driving in the opposite direction of the mall, and he grudgingly turned around to take us there, muttering “tourists!” under his breath. I’m sorry to say our team wasn’t one of the first to arrive at the end point, but we still got to enjoy the ride back on an open-topped bus.

As always, there are some cool posts on the facebook page. There are some pocket parks in LA funded by public-private partnerships. And you’ve got to love this “stacking green” house in Saigon, even if from the the outside it looks a bit like one of those stacks of veg crates that nearly runs you over in the supermarket isle. Elize posted these quirky illustrations. Ever wanted a caravan to tow behind your bicycle? No? Well, check these out anyway, they’re really funny, thanks Annamari. There are all kinds of sprouting products. And James posted this styling camping-themed hotel for those who aren’t entirely sure that they want to get out there.

We are working on some exciting projects all over as usual, Anton went to Uganda this week for a new project and we are also working on an amusement park in Nigeria and a mixed-use project in Kenya. Good news is that the Innovation Hub project in Botswana is also set to start up again. We’ll keep you posted on these and more.

’til next time.

October 2012

It seems like it’s been kind of a Japanese month here at GREENinc. Annamari posted a great link to a Japanese artist’s crochet playgrounds. The artist started making crochet artworks and the kids couldn’t keep off them, so she decided to try some bespoke playgrounds. Does she do all that crocheting herself?! And it looks like she uses a serious crochet hook. The work makes me think of a technicolour representation of space/time, with the balls dimpling gravity. But who cares, it looks like mind-blowing fun!

Also Japanese is a landscape integrated into a building by architect Hiroshi Nakamura, which brings an unexpected bit of nature into central Tokyo.

Anton posted a beautifully produced video on Urban Network Analysis, GIS add-on software for analysing urban data to assist designers. Have a look, it didn’t take too long to download even on our ADSL line. Actually, we have a Neotel fibre optic line coming into our office now, but it has yet to work, alas. Telkom has also decided that fibre is a good idea, and now they have dug up our street too. Maybe someone should consider putting in some sleeves. We’re surely going to need more urban data transmission in the future!

’til next time.

September 2012

The 49th IFLA World Congress is done and dusted, and most of GREENinc has made its way back to the office from Cape Town. What a huge event, look out for the special supplement in the Mail and Guardian on Friday, and well done to the organizing committee. It was great to see old friends and colleagues from around the country and the world and be inspired by the likes of landscape architecture legend Kathryn Gustafson, whom we couldn’t resist quoting on facebook. And Cape Town managed to stage some spectacular weather for the duration. You’d think it was always sunny and balmy there at this time of year. I took the slow way down, via Namaqualand, and so missed all of what I believe was some seriously dramatic weather here in Joburg. And we had snow within the same month too, which you will see from the photo had us as excited as schoolkids soon after my last newsletter. Well, it’s not every day you see that in Jozi.

Lots of other cool stuff on the page this month (sorry), like a rooftop aquaponics farm in Orlando and long-time GREENinc collaborator Marco Cianfanelli’s website. Not so cool is the state of many of our public playgrounds. This tent looks like it will make a statement next time you pull into a campsite. It reminds me of a spoof video I once saw on the last of the great campers. All it needs is some potted plants. There are also some of Anton’s hand sketches for a project we’re working on in Kenya and an article on parks as infrastructure. Finally, check out the posting of Freedom Park on Landezine.

’til next time.

August 2012

Early last month, our Sharpeville Memorial project was published in Landscape World magazine, and that set us to posting the covers of the books that our work has featured in.  Most recently, in a book entitled “Constructing Shadows” compiled by Petschek and Gass and in “South African Landscape Architecture”, compiled by Stoffberg, Hindes and Muller, which is actually a pair of books, a reader and a compendium.

This last publication has been released just in time for the IFLA World Congress which will be held in Cape Town in just over a month. Wait, let me post the link too, haven’t I done this before? IFLA is the International Federation of Landscape Architects and it’s a great honour for us to be hosting this event here in SA. Of course the whole office will decamp to Cape Town that week. Have a look at the programme, there are some great international speakers that won’t just appeal to landscape architects, with urban, cultural and ecological themes.

Last week we were at the Sustainability Week in Sandton which included a 2-day green building conference. I hope you visited our stand if you were there. If not, I’ll have to just include a picture…

Speaking of pictures, I was oggling these images of exotic retreats and I said I would share them because PG was drooling over my shoulder. They are billed as being for designers – of course it was a design-related site, I was trying to do something at least a bit work-related before I got side-tracked – don’t you hate that? It’s like when you go to outlook to get a phone number so you can phone someone, but it opens in your inbox instead of your contacts, and then your eye is caught by a particular e-mail and then you forget to make the call? There’s definitely a design flaw there. Now what was I writing about? Oh, ja, these places are supposed to be for design buffs, but I don’t think anyone would mind too much having to go there. And finally, we shared the Sunday Times’ picture of our friend Gerald Garner and an article about his inner-city walking tours.

’til next time.

July 2012

We’ve had guys digging up paving in front of our office and drilling holes in its walls in the last few weeks, all gearing up to installing a fibre-optic line. It’s very exciting. We should even be able to download YouTube clips once they eventually finish. Until now, we’ve (not) enjoyed what feels like the slowest internet connection in the country – if not the world – because, we’re told, we’re on the Rosebank telephone exchange and it’s hopelessly overloaded. Of course now that we’ve made this commitment to more expensive technology we hear that Telkom has at last decided to upgrade our exchange next month. Oh well, we’ll still be faster and Telkom will feel the loss of our business, I’m sure!

Luckily we’ve stayed in the office a bit more in the last few weeks, but our work has been getting out there. The Alive Exhibition that featured some of it went off well by all accounts. Have a look at the photo gallery from the exhibition.

Annamari posted a link featuring temporary structures for the Olympics, and James posted some shelving and people who put themselves on the shelves. It doesn’t look like it was very comfortable. In fact, it probably felt pretty much like those shelves that pass for benches at the Gautrain stations.


Casting tinted concrete at Jabulani Hospital. Don’t worry, it will dry to the same colour as the sample!

’til next time.

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