Merriman Square

Western Cape, South Africa
Urban sanctuary

An ecologically sustainable and inclusive open space has dramatically boosted occupancy rates, created a desirable destination and an urban sanctuary.

An unloved, unused and underperforming public plaza in a harsh modernist environment of high-rise offices in Cape Town CBD has been transformed.

So, what sort of place-making strategies achieved this at Merriman Square?

Adapting natural systems were the key re-activators – urban revitalisation through water sensitive design.

Client: Redefine Properties
Awards: 2018
ILASA Merit Award of Excellence

IFLA AAPME Environmental Sensitivity Award & Gold Award of Excellence
ILASA Environmental Sensitivity Award
SALI Gold Award of Excellence
Location: Cape Town, South Africa
Typology: Landscape Urbanism
Status: Built 2017
Size: 1.5 ha

The integrated stormwater management strategy provides a valuable public amenity that is able to thrive through the city’s harshest drought. Rainwater is harvested from the roof, directed to storage tanks to irrigate the green building facades and building use. Overflow water is channelled down the columns within the square.

Two biofiltration basins percolate it back into the groundwater, minimising the burden on the city’s stormwater infrastructure whilst sustaining indigenous wetland species that attract birdlife to the area.

Located on a reclaimed foreshore and ex-port, the marine design narrative – wharves and jetties – evokes a strong sense of place. Together with pergolas they frame smaller spaces to provide a comfortable human scale.

Diverse spatial conditions – seating steps and walls, bar counters and movable furniture – welcome office workers, students and street vendors. They create a vibrant, season sensitive and inclusive urban living room that offers respite from the exposed foreshore environment.

The planting counters the existing sterile environment through the manipulation of scale, enclosure and light and invites people into the space. People and nature together.

The sheltered network of green infrastructure and sustainable urban drainage systems are the structuring elements for public place-making