DEADP* roof garden, Cape Town
*Department of Environment and Development Planning
The roof garden of the Western Cape’s environment department.
If I’ve ever been in a roof garden, a proper, up-in-the-air garden out on an open roof, well, I can’t remember it. Not since seeing this one which, I must add, is fuller and livelier than the above photo (which represents the succulent Karoo biome) suggests.
So, without further ado, more photos of the roof garden in the Cape Town city centre, starting with what it looks like from a higher building nearby, which is how I first spotted it.
This is the legacy of Tasneem Essop, I am told by Alicia Eksteen of the 2wise2waste programme at the department (the reason why Cape Town has segregated beaches -- no, bins for recycling, still absent up here in Gauteng) who takes me up there. I hadn't heard of Tasneem Essop for some years - she’s a previous minister of the department, back when the Western Cape was still in ANC hands. (She has since become an international climate policy advocate at WWF-South Africa).
It was unveiled in December 2006, which makes it a good 5 years old. It has certainly developed body compared to the early photos, which can be seen (here and there) at Beyer Honig Landscapes (pretty website), whose horticulturalist and landscaper Marijke Honig was responsible for bees finding buchu high above the streets of Cape Town.
Because the plants are planted not in individual containers, but in beds of soil, quite a bit of preparation went into this roof garden: all airconditioning units were gathered up and placed behind and above the screen of rhombic metal plates. The roof strength had to assessed, waterproofing sheets and membranes installed and tested (for roof garden contruction methods are still being developed in South Africa; read Laurian Brown’s interesting article on another Beyer Honig roof garden, this time on top of Cape Town’s civic centre), hessian to fasten down soil in Cape Town’s southwesters. It took a year to prepare the roof. >>