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Horseshoe rising in reserve

Construction of a multi-purpose centre at the Helderberg Nature Reserve is taking shape.

Work on the structure started in June and, if all goes as planned, it will be completed by June next year. To add to the excitement of what’s to come, and in line with environmentally friendly approaches, the structure is being built with rammed earth walls, tyres, recycled building rubble and eco-bricks, according to the City of Cape Town.

The building, which is being constructed in the shape of a horseshoe, faces the very scenic Helderberg Mountain with its indigenous fynbos. The reserve is one of the City’s 21 nature reserves, which protects rare fynbos and provides a host of benefits to residents and visitors. Some of these include education, recreation, tourism, job creation and skills development.

“We are building this centre in one of the most beautiful settings in Cape Town,” said Marian Nieuwoudt, Mayoral Committee member for Spatial Planning and Environment.

“It is designed to be carbon-neutral, and the materials that we are using were carefully selected in an effort to respect this natural environment.

“The design is also informed by resource efficiency – the sustainable use of water and energy – for it is imperative that we consider our natural environment as we build a resilient Cape Town to withstand climate change.”

Nieuwoudt added the centre, which will facilitate environmental education programmes and various other visitor activities, will be fitted with a solar photovoltaic system to generate its own electricity, one to recycle water, and a water filtration scheme that will be linked to the other existing infrastructure on the site.

“We are busy creating something special, which will showcase sustainable building practices and contribute towards a greener and more sustainable structure,” she explained. “Leading by example, we want to inspire the private sector to also investigate alternative and greener building material, and implement water and energy-wise systems that will preserve our limited natural resources.”

The tyre wall is built with recycled truck tyres, filled with recycled G5 earth material from demolished building sites. “These are compacted with sledge hammers to form a solid base,” Nieuwoudt said. “Once compacted, the next row of tyres is stacked, up and up, until the wall is high enough.

“Given that almost every bit of material is recycled, the wall has a low energy footprint and we are using tyres that would have been destined for landfill. I’m looking forward to the project’s completion and the day when we can open the centre to visitors.”

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