Situated in the eastern slopes of Cape Town’s Table Mountain, Kirstenbosch is the first botanic garden in the world to be included within a natural World Heritage Site. Established in 1913 the 36 hectare garden is part of a larger 528 hectare nature reserve.
To herald the 100th anniversary of Kirstenbosch in 2013, the Centenary Tree Canopy Walkway was built in 2013-14 , and opened to the public on 17 May 2014.
The Centenary Tree Canopy Walkway is a new curved steel and timber bridge that winds and dips its way through and over the trees of the Arboretum. Inspired by a snake skeleton, and informally called ‘The Boomslang’ (meaning tree snake), it is a low-maintenance, low-impact sculptural raised walkway.
The project is a collaboration between Mark Thomas Architects and Engineers Henry Fagan & Partners consulting engineers. The walkway is 130 m (427 ft) long, touching the forest floor in two places, and raises visitors to 12 m above ground (39 ft)
The main spine of the walkway is tubular steel, with welded ribs and a light mesh giving the cross bracing, allowing the whole form to act as a bridge-spanning beam. The decking is stained, treated, slatted pine, placed on edge and spaced to accommodate the walkway’s curves.
The structure was pre-fabricated in 6 m lengths that were hoisted by crane and bolted together on site. This caused minimal disruption to the trees during assembly and reduced construction time in the Garden. The foundations are submerged, hand-dug, reinforced concrete pads in select positions, approximately 12 m (39 ft) apart.
Established in 1913, Kirstenbosch was the world’s first botanic garden to be devoted to a country’s indigenous fauna. Kirstenbosch lies in the heart of the Cape Floristic Region, also known as the Cape Floral Kingdom. In 2004 the Cape Floristic Region, including Kirstenbosch, was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Pictures by Adam Harrower