Construction of Africa’s first biophilic building under way in Cape Town

Estate agent Dogon Group has confirmed that demolition is under way ahead of the start of construction of Africa’s first-ever biophilic development, in Cape Town.

The Fynbos building, as it will be called, will comprise 24 storeys of mixed-use space, including Cape Town’s first-ever urban street art gallery and an exterior draped in a 1 200 m2 vertical garden made up of 30 species of indigenous trees and 20 species of shrub.

The gallery will boast more than 1,000 artworks created by about 120 graffiti artists from 30 countries.

Additionally, the developers of The Fynbos, Lurra Capital, held a street art competition and selected the top five graffiti artists, who will be commissioned to paint murals over several floors of the lift shaft within the building.

Development managers for the building, Gardner Property Solutions, says the Fynbos Street Art Campaign was curated by renowned street artists Christopher MacClements and Juma Mkwela and highlights the power and impact of street art within urban settings, as a multitude of street artists worked side by side to transform the existing derelict and vandalized building into a work of art.

Meanwhile, Dogon develops head Paul upton explains that The Fynbos’ development necessitates input from experts from various fields, including botanists, architects, landscape architects, engineers and sustainability experts.

He believes the building will redefine inner-city living for Cape Town, South Africa and Africa as a whole.

Biophilic buildings incorporate natural lighting and ventilation, natural landscape features and other elements to create a more productive and healthier built environment.

The pioneering garden system at The Fynbos was designed by a specialist team of technical botanists and will see a specific configuration of vegetation monitored by a highly technical water and nutrient system, with automated root scanners, monitored water content and drainage, as well as “flying gardeners who will manage maintenance externally.

“As the first truly biophilic living structure on the continent, The Fynbos – which is currently in the process of achieving Green Star certification from the Green Building Council South Africa – will have several innate sustainability features built into it from inception,” notes Upton.

Climate control at The Fynbos, which was designed by architects TwentyEightZeroTwo, will be provided by natural vegetation layers, with the exterior plantings having a cooling effect to provide shade and screening.

The building’s water efficiency will be improved through low-flow fittings, well-point filtration and a sophisticated integrated rainwater harvesting system.

Integrated solar photovoltaic panels will power the common areas and a central heated water system will replace what would normally be individual geysers.

These energy savings will be passed back to the owners through reduced levies, Upton highlights.

Expansive windows and glass sliding doors, using specialized double glazing, overlooking panoramic views of mountain and city, will allow in abundant natural light.

The double glazing further reduces the amount of energy spent on heating in winter and acts as a sound softener.

Once completed, The Fynbos will feature 689 apartments and include a rooftop sunset terrace with lap pool and co-working space, a rooftop fitness centre, as well as a ground-floor plant-based restaurant, a tearoom and a botanical bar.

Apartments within this development are priced to appeal to a diverse audience, Upton says, explaining that the luxury studio units start at R999 000 and range in size from 24 m2 to 40 m2.

The one-bedroom apartments start at R1.6-million and range in size between 34 m2 to 58 m2while the two-bedroom apartments start at R4.9-million and range in sizes up to 82 m2.

“Excitingly, we are seeing a surge in demand for short-term rentals in Cape Town as tourism returns to pre-Covid-19 levels, and with this we are seeing good rental returns on apartments within the city. Despite inflation and rising interest rates, generous short-term vacation rentals help landlords recoup expenses,” Upton points out.

The Fynbos, once complete, will be a living, breathing building which blurs the lines between nature and the built environment, Dogon MD Alexa Horne says, adding that the company has witnessed increased interest for apartments with sustainability principles at the heart.

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