A new hub of activity engages the Mother City’s community
dhk Architects recently completed an exciting public space at Cape Town’s V&A Waterfront
Battery Park, an urban playground in Cape Town that references historic Amsterdam Battery, is a new 12 000 square metre park situated at a key entranceway to one of Africa’s most visited tourist destinations. Developed as the nucleus of a larger urban vision for the district, the site includes a park and piazza that effectively conceal a 1 206 bay parking facility, as well as new pedestrian routes designed to invigorate the precinct with activity.
The site is of archaeological importance as it contains the remnants of one of the city’s oldest structures, the Amsterdam Battery (erected by the Dutch along Cape Town’s coastline in 1784 to defend the city from seaborne and land attacks). This provided a unique opportunity for the firm to pay homage to the landmark whilst incorporating spaces for leisure and recreational activities. The project forms part of the framework created for the V&A’s previously underutilised Canal District that reconnects the city centre and De Waterkant to the V&A.
On the elevated park level, visitors can explore landscaped gardens with trees and stone-clad planters, meandering walkways with built-in benches, a concrete skate park, basketball court and new pedestrian routes with shade provided throughout by cantilevered steel pergolas. The lower piazza level contains 11 boutique retail units that line the canal-facing walls. The aim behind the piazza was to activate the canal via a range of water sports and provide a link between the V&A and the CBD – encouraging a more pedestrianised environment.
Referencing the battery’s original façade, loosely packed stone-filled gabion walls shroud the parking facility and stone-clad planters contain fynbos and waterwise plants – all the stone used throughout the park and piazza was excavated from the site during the building process.
Director at dhk and lead architect on the project Pierre Swanepoel says, ‘The intention was to facilitate a new hub of activity within the V&A district while being respectful to the heritage of the Amsterdam Battery, once a place of exclusion and incarceration, but now a public space designed to support and engage the greater Cape Town community.’
*Image credit: Theo Gutter, David Southwood