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marelize lourens


care architecture for an endangered ecology in the overstrand region


gansbaai, overberg district, western cape

fynbos, fire, ecology, anthropocene, low embodied energy


This project investigates theories relating to humans and the ecology in the contemporary world from a land conservation and restoration perspective. The project relates to the threats our world faces, such as climate change, and the relationship between the Anthropocene and the built environment. The term endangered ecology arises from the rate of extinction of plant and animal species due expanding urban developments in Gansbaai.

The project explores ideas on how to increase the value of the ecology and test how it can benefit from architecture by creating social and academic spaces of learning and experiencing the landscape. The three most common means of economic value for the fynbos are employment in the removal of alien plants, fire management, tourism and cultivating fynbos for local businesses. Once the alien plants are removed, an increase in the diversity of fynbos will increase the tourism industry of Gansbaai and give opportunity for smaller businesses to harvest enough produce to sell medicine and cosmetics. The importance of fire for the regeneration of fynbos play an important role in the ecology, which is a concerning element living in the Anthropocene.

The fynbos park strives to construct architecture that celebrates and engages with fire. The design decision around fire brings depth to the project and in return can create awareness as an example of living with wilderness. The project aims to reverse the extinction rate of fynbos and the damage done by urban developments, and introduce architecture that acts as a fire break and a vessel on which to journey through the different fynbos timescapes. By planning models in collaboration with nature, the architecture leads to “productive ecologies”. Productive public spaces that result in self-managed ecological and economic alternatives, while visitors can still experience and engage with nature. To increase the well-being of people using the space, it is important to reflect the concept in the design. The landscape will be ever changing as each fire break separates a different fynbos landscape in time.

Each piece of timescape will be burned through a controlled fire every fifteen years. Ultimately, the fynbos park involves the interpretation of Gansbaai and the discovery of landscape as a repository of the histories of the local people and unique flora and fauna.


narrated presentation


visual presentation

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dissertation document