Somerset Lakes

Western Cape, South Africa
Environmentally resilient and desirable new address for connected living

A vast degraded site was transformed into a sought-after community residential development, an environmentally resilient and desirable new address for connected living.

The polluted soils of this abandoned, derelict farmland had made farming unviable. Attempts to turn this site into an attractive neighbourhood had failed.

Awards: 2014
SALI Awards: Gold Award of Excellence
Client: Omwieco
Location: Western Cape, South Africa
Status: Built 2015
Size: 69 ha
Images: David Ross
Partners: Urba, (Omnicron, (Domain, ICE Group, GIBB, GMQS
Typology: Mixed-use, Residential, Education

So how did we harness natural systems to create vital neighbourhoods?

By designing a blue/green network that connected restored ecologies across the site.

The masterplan saw natural systems – streams and shelter belts, dams and forests create the structure of the site, turning it into Somerset Lakes – a place where people want to live.

Water resources are an asset. A water sensitive urban design strategy created an extensive natural wetland area and green belts connected across the site to guarantee resilience in a drought afflicted region. Stormwater is harvested within the local catchment area and treated through slow filtration. Water vulnerability is addressed by absorbing flooding events and replenishing the water table for future droughts.

A biodiverse, hybrid landscape of locally indigenous species provides striking colour and texture through all seasons. Mature trees provide screening of the adjacent highway and generous, shaded walkways. Streets and parks are designed as connected open space networks for people to encourage outdoor community living.

Residential developments succeed when landscapes are designed as multifunctional spaces contributing to healthy lifestyles, community connection and place-making.

The result – an environmentally resilient and desirable new address for connected living