Speaker 0 00:00:01 Hello everyone. I am Teresa Smith, senior content specialist for ESI Africa, and your host for today's podcast about water and design. This year's annual co-create design festival takes the theme designing African blue green cities for all. Here to discuss how design can be used to incorporate water into the landscapes of cities is Catherine Crowder, landscape architect.
Speaker 2 00:00:34 Welcome to the ESI Africa podcast, brought to you by your trusted power and energy multimedia journal. You can download this and all other episodes on esi hyphen africa.com/podcasts. Let's get into today's conversation.
Speaker 0 00:00:55 Hello and thanks for joining us. Could we just start with you explaining what I, lasa actually is?
Speaker 3 00:01:04 So I LASAs the, um, Institute for Landscape Architecture in South Africa, and it's a voluntary organization, which is, um, registered with S lab, so African council for the landscape architectural profession. And, um, yeah, iasa promotes the profession and the concept of landscape architecture, um, in order, yeah, to, to create, um, a demand for our services, but also to to highlight what we do, um, so that, um, our profession gets recognized in the build environment.
Speaker 0 00:01:43 And then, um, what does membership bring you? Um, do you guys meet every year maybe? Or what, what do you get out of it?
Speaker 3 00:01:52 So, um, iasa, um, actually organizes, um, activities like, um, webinars, short courses, workshops, um, but also, um, design competitions. And, um, we actually need, um, for our continued professional development, um, points every year if you registered with club. So, um, it, Eliza helps us to, to collect, um, some of these points through their activities, but obviously it also helps us to, um, connect on, um, through the regional branches, um, within these workshops, ands and, um, how to build our network of, um, in the industry.
Speaker 0 00:02:40 So what is it that you do as an architect? You have any sort of visualization?
Speaker 3 00:02:46 So, so we are not architects, vr, landscape architects, and, um, so, so there, there's a big difference, especially, uh, also when you talk to, to architects. So we are, uh, responsible for the design and planning of the open spaces. So open spaces, we mean the streets, um, parks, um, yeah, public open spaces, um, gardens, um, kibosh for example. And, um, but we also work for, um, public and private clients. And, um, we, we also not working only in cities, we are also working, um, in, in rural areas or, um, in within B areas. And, um, we, yeah, we work in different scales but is quite exciting. So we work, um, we can work on a framework scale like, um, on a citywide framework, for example, for maybe green corridors, but we, we can also work just, um, make a design for a small product garden, for example, or just a water feature. So, um, that makes our profession very interesting that we, we always, um, have to understand the bigger system, but can actually work, um, down to, to an implementable construction project.
Speaker 0 00:04:11 Okay. So then are you the kind of people who get involved in also when, um, huge reticulation water sanitation systems have to be created in cities?
Speaker 3 00:04:23 No, so this would be, um, engineers, So this is not the role of a landscape architect because yeah, like water radiation, um, like everything that falls under water sanitation is actually covered by civil engineers.
Speaker 0 00:04:39 Okay. So there's this interesting function when it comes to, um, water and design, um, because it isn't just about water and sewage, it's, um, water has a, uh, a space to play, um, in clean space management, managing biodiversity and this interesting thing called temperature, temperature buffering, buffering, temperature buffering. So, um, what is the, the role that you see for, um, water design in creating climate adaptive spaces?
Speaker 3 00:05:11 Yeah, so, so I would, um, as landscape architects, I wouldn't so much say water design, but rather design both water because, um, water for us is our main informant if we work with her side because, um, if you think of the storm water from, from rainfall that shaped, um, our landscapes, um, through different processes like erosion, collection de positions, actually since the earth exists. Um, so with that, yeah, we know that water can seep, it can run off, it collects and pools and floods. So, so we, as landscape architects, we, we look at it when we look at a site and analyze water on site and, um, with that understanding of, of these processes that are involved on that specific side, we then make the water work actually on the side and, um, we give it priority and we let it in the end form our design because water is such a force. If you force it too much, then it will force its way back again.
Speaker 0 00:06:23 Okay. So, um, when you're thinking,
Speaker 3 00:06:27 So actually I, I could also maybe yeah. Come back to that and, um, just to lead us to, to what, um, the design and data is about because we had these centuries of, um, storm water control through engineered, um, solutions like yeah. Concrete channels and pipes and through these systems, our cities were plant or with these systems and mind. And, um, but in recent years, especially with, um, climate change, um, we decide, yeah, we realize we have to change that and, um, that we can't control water specifically, um, and we need to give it space. You know, we need to give it space in our cities, we have to recognize it, and we, we can't just leave it underground. We actually, it helps us to see it. And, um, when we talk about like blue green infrastructure, that's, that's where that actually comes into place that we change the concrete infrastructure into blue green infrastructure and it also becomes part of our urban landscape. So, um, because blue green infrastructure is a new approach to health with urban flat resilience, but it also if that, um, gives us back more green spaces that, um, bring more nature into our cities.
Speaker 0 00:07:58 Okay, so you're talking about that idea of in, in the city, if you're going to have so much concrete because it's, um, just manmade structures all over the place, it interrupts the natural flow of the water and because of climate change, that natural flow of the water can be quite drastic right now, and it will actually in a way hurt the city if it's just completely manmade structures, whereas if you had the green spaces, the more natural open spaces where the water could actually flow, it's less of a devastating effect on people then potentially
Speaker 3 00:08:33 Yes, because like if you, if you think of the pipe, for example, a pipe has a certain capacity that can, can run through it, but now with have these extreme, uh, weather events that we are having, um, there, there could be a much higher flow that has to, to go through and the pipe can't handle it, So, so it will have to flood somewhere. And that flood, we, we, we don't know where that will happen and then we can't control it. But yeah, if we give, um, the water its space, um, then it can actually, yeah, we give it space that it can be held somewhere like a detention point that could also be a wetland or whatever, and, and then it slowly can either infiltrate into the earth or it can slowly, um, flow off after the, the extreme weather event is over.
Speaker 0 00:09:26 Okay. So, um, I know from, um, living in Cape Town that people often end up living informally on flood planes and in mm-hmm. <affirmative>, what should essentially be articulation space or, um, like an overflow pond space, which normally has nothing in it, but it's meant for that every 20 years when things are gonna get drastic kind of space. So, um, what kind of education do you see as necessary to teach me the normal person that actually you shouldn't be doing this? I mean, um, is, is this the kind of thing we do get taught at school and I missed it, or is this just not actually happening and, um, people don't realize they shouldn't be doing something like that?
Speaker 3 00:10:15 Yeah, I think, um, yeah, um, I'm, I'm a big promoter of, um, educating society on water because, um, everything, I mean, the water cycle is a cycle, but, but our impact can be quite bad on it. But like if before example, think of a small, um, example that you've washed your car in the street and you use soap and, and maybe you have a little bit of ball under your water, under your car and you washed it off, that all goes into a storm water channel. That storm water channel then connects, um, with a storm water pipe that goes into a river. And so your soap and your oil, the land and the river and the polluted river, without you actually knowing because you might think, Oh, I'm two kilometers away. It's not ever affecting that. But, um, we all don't understand that these underground systems are actually connected to our natural environment or if you, so, so in terms of pollution, I think, yeah, we, we, um, really need to educate society as well.
Speaker 3 00:11:26 Like what, what is a storm water pond or what is a flat plane? What can I do in a flat plane? Should, yeah, if I let litter next to a river will end in the sea, if I, um, live in the flat plane, if I build my structure there, it can actually flat my, my, um, dwelling and it can kill me and my, my family, but it can also take everything away I belong and it can cause flooding to, to others because, um, elements of my dwelling could be stuck under the next bridge and cause flooding again, I, I often thought about it how we could, um, educate, um, everybody on that. But I think there, there are international examples, for example, that, um, paint on storm water gies, uh, like, like arrows or, or, or words and say, I'm going there and, and you can follow that and you actually understand where your water goes, for example,
Speaker 0 00:12:31 That it actually be quite a cool idea, um, something that passively teaches you. Um, this is the way that the water's going to flow, so don't go that way, necess necessarily. So speaking of, of learning, um, African or water design, um, traditionally, uh, seriously incorporates water because either of the space where you are ing and you need to get the water to your actual space or away from your space. And I'm fascinated by, um, traditional design in Moroccan architecture, how they incorporate water into building a house so that they can cool it out because they really need to do something like that. So, um, can you think of any other, um, places in Africa that could actually teach us how to better manage the flow of water through our cities or how we use water or channel water that we can adapt and use here in South Africa?
Speaker 3 00:13:28 Yeah, um, I'm, I'm a big fan of, um, Inogen design technologies, but um, I'm not aware of actually, um, any projects that are in connection with cities, but I know a couple of projects that are about an aquaculture like sustainable and controlled way of, um, farming fish and, and natural rivers or, um, or in the sea and, and they just use natural materials. They understand the whole ecosystem around them and, and their impact on it. And, um, so, so I think, yeah, you have a lot to learn from, um, from indent the signs, but, um, but I also think, um, like wetlands, for example, wetlands and, and, and cities, um, should play a much bigger role in, in the future, and we really need to protect them because they really, um, they, they clean, they cleaner water, they clean air, they, um, they hold carbon in them. Um, and they obviously, um, have, um, another, um, whole set of functions for, for our biodiversity, BirdLife, whatever. And, um, but also for us as, as people to, and cities to reconnect to, to nature, um, so that we can breathe and, um, and live, uh, a better life. Um, reconnected to,
Speaker 0 00:15:06 Um, what are examples of, um, wetlands within South Africa that are close to cities? Um, because I'm, I'm trying to picture, well, what kind of space are you talking about when you say a wetland?
Speaker 3 00:15:18 So wetlands, we have a couple of wetlands in, um, in Cape Town that are like, like in Quale has a big redland around, um, then at, uh, observatory and, and, um, the South African observatory next to Pec River. There, there, there's the wetland, but also, yeah, next to the next to most reverse, there, there are wetland sections.
Speaker 0 00:15:45 Okay. So I have to think about where, um, there's that intersection of river that's close to a city, that space that's next to it, or the plants that will grow there that's not gonna grow somewhere else. And the way that the water moves that sort of zone next to it. So that's what you're talking about, that space that's next to it. Okay. Um, then do you, do you can't, um, but that are next to the actual coast, um, also as Zo, is that a completely different kind of thing? Um, because seas and erosions
Speaker 3 00:16:18 And people
Speaker 0 00:16:18 That's,
Speaker 3 00:16:19 Yeah. So one of my other favorite themes are Esther. So this is the, um, place where the, the river meets the sea where, where you, um, where fresh water and salt water mix and you have that very, um, unique environment, um, especially breeding ground for, for fishes, but also for, um, for birds and stuff. And, um, we've got a couple of Estu and Cape Town as well, but we often, um, don't recognize them or yeah, neglect and they, they often also like, um, because they're part of the beach, um, people often don't understand that they're not only there for us, but they're also like you very sensitive area, um, for, for birds or other, um, species.
Speaker 0 00:17:13 So in a way that's something that you also take great care to, to manage. If that is a space you're going to end up working in, how you going to interact with that? You're very careful about that.
Speaker 3 00:17:24 Yeah. Yeah. And that's also something what we do as landscape architects. We, we try to understand, um, what are the sensitive natural areas we are working in that and that are protected on different levels, but how would we, um, work with that protection but at the same time make them accessible to humans Yeah. Too.
Speaker 0 00:17:50 Okay.
Speaker 3 00:17:51 Without destroying them. Yeah.
Speaker 0 00:17:53 Okay. Thank you so much Kathryn, for joining us and explaining what it is that you actually do. And what I Lassa is
Speaker 3 00:18:01 Thank you very much, um, yeah, for having me here. That was great. To, to speak to you today. Thanks.
Speaker 2 00:18:13 You have been listening to an ESI Africa podcast. For the latest news reports and interviews on power, energy, and related industries, visit the ESI Africa website on esi hyphen africa.com or follow us on social media. Until next time, thank you for tuning in.