About URBANscapes

Company Experience & Expertise

At URBANscapes Landscape Architects, Environmental Planners, Open Space Facility and Landscape Managers, our experience and expertise is based on 27 years of practise in the field of landscape architecture and environmental planning services.  These services have ranged from project viability assessment, concept development, planning and detail design, right through to compiling construction documentation, tender compilation, contract administration and supervision of implementation. Works have included amongst others soft landscaping such as earthworks, wetlands, watercourses and ponds, planting and site rehabilitation and hard landscaping such as street / public furniture, lighting, surfacing, on site stormwater management infrastructure and systems, signage design etc.  This range of services also importantly, in terms of resilience and sustainability, has included maintenance & management planning and operations, utilising our S.O.S Sustainable Open Spaces management and maintenance model & systems software which we have developed based on our experience and expertise. In addition, multi-disciplinary project management, facility business planning, stakeholder facilitation and operations planning has formed an integral part of the service which we provide. 

Our client base has been private, para-statal and public (local, provincial and national government) sectors.  The latter being custodians of the public realm of public assets. 

We have been privileged to win competitive tenders for landscape Architectural, public facilitation, project management and urban management services in the City of Cape Town over the past 16 years. 

 This experience has given us much insight and understanding of the institutional workings and arrangements within the City of Cape Town line functions including City Parks, Roads and Stormwater, Catchment Management, Corporate Facilities, Economic Development and Tourism etc. With this experience has come many lessons learnt in terms of how to achieve successful and sustainable public open space facilities including parks, transport facility precincts etc..  These lessons have enabled URBANscapes to offer our clients models and systems to plan, build and operate such assets & facilities with effectivity and efficiency thereby achieving and ensuring sustainability and resilience.  This keen knowledge and understanding of all the aspects of the life cycle of a project, assists our clients to run various aspects such as site assessments and feasibility studies together with design concept development, meaningful and long-lasting (job creation) stakeholder involvement, economic opportunity identification and various legislative approval processes.

Our passion and commitment, enables us to offer our clients as streamlined a process as possible, yet one that presents a thoroughly and comprehensively investigated solution and hence optimal product.  In the case of financial resources, we strive to find additional and support resources should these be lacking in order to achieve the optimal product. We also firmly believe in making public space facilities financially viable and as far as possible self-sustainable decreasing institutional and governmental subsidisation. The end goal being the improvement of South Africa’s quality of living, working and recreational environment as well as access to resources so as that all can reach their full potential. 

COMPANY PROFILE

URBANscapes was established by Michellé Robertson-Swift in 2003 and has been successfully growing for 16 years.  Refer to Project Portfolio to see the wide variety of Open Space Facilities and Landscapes which we have planned and / developed.

URBANscapes is a registered closed corporation (LA WEB cc CK 2003/042215/23) and trading under the name of URBANscapes.  URBANscapes is 100% woman owned by Michellé Robertson-Swift, a registered Landscape Architect.

COMPANY REGISTRATION INFORMATION

Closed Corporation No. -LA WEB cc   CK 2003 / 042215 / 23 trading as URBANscapes

Closed Corporation Membership: Sole owner – Michelle Robertson- Swift PrLArch BLArch (UP) MSACLAP MILASA

VAT Registration No. -4840223178

Professional Registration No.:- SACLAP Reg. No. Pr 20137 (South African Council for the Landscape Architectural Profession- Member Michelle Robertson- Swift)

CAPABILITY

The firm is based on 27 years of experience, specialising in sustainable open / public space planning and development with a strong emphasis on creating sustainable, resilient landscapes and high quality live, work and relaxation environments.  As a result of the experience the firm is also based on 13 years of intensive research and development with regards the urban management of sustainable private and public (open space) facilities including residential or corporate landscapes and public transport interchanges, parks and public squares.  This research and development has led to the design of the S.O.S Sustainable Open Space Model and Systems software.

CAPACITY

URBANscapes core staff compliment is made up of inhouse experts and specialists as well as a virtual team of contracted key specialists.

The core team together with administrative and support staff includes:-

  • A registered landscape architect SACLAP (The South African Council for the Landscape Architectural Profession);
  • A qualified mechanical engineer who is experienced in landscape and civils construction detailing and on-site supervision;
  • A qualified Desk Top Publisher / Graphic Artist; and
  • A Sustainable Open Space Assessor and Manager.

URBANscapes also has a strong group of contract staff with specialist experience and expertise which it has had the privilege on numerous projects worked with successfully in the past and so calls upon dependent on the requirements and needs of the specific project.  

These experts include amongst others include:

  • Land Surveyor – experienced in surveying trees and shrubs required in Cultural Historic Landscape and other Assessment;
  • Arborist – experienced in the surveying, comprehensive inventorying, assessment and future works required action plan;
  • Hydrological Engineer – integrated hydrological management and site design achieving maximum sustainable on-site water management, harvesting and reuse;
  • Aquatic Ecologist;
  • Botanist / Plant Ecologist (both terrestrial and wetland);
  • Urban Agriculturist;
  • Business Planner;
  • Architect;
  • Urban Designer; and
  • Interior Designer.

Philosophy

DEVELOPING AND SUSTAINING OPTIMAL LANDSCAPE SYSTEMS AND FACILITIES

“Integration is a powerful concept for cities. So where does the concept come from, and where might it take us in the long run?

Ecological systems are characterized by multifunctional elements and the looping and cascading of resources through interlinked and nested subsystems, which greatly enhance productive utility. They demonstrate powerful strategies for managing change, such as succession and evolution, self-organization, and adaptive management.

All these strategies are part of an integrated one system approach thus improving the efficiency of the system as a whole—maximizing assets”.

Just like natural ecologies URBANscapes’ philosophy and the S.O.S model and systems software, grasps the potential of these opportunities for system-wide success, sustainability and resilience.

S.O.S takes the inventory, design and management of all aspects of the landscape (man- made services and infrastructure together with natural infrastructure such as water, land, plant and fauna ecosystems, ensuring appropriate and optimal conservation and use and   maximising efficiency and effectivity.  The system carefully inventories and records all information allowing easy access for purposes of education, information, tracking changes, monitoring and improving as well notifying operators of management and maintenance actions required.

A one system wholistic approach.

VISION:

A high quality, resilient and sustainable urban open space facility / network of facilities which by efficient and effective planning, design, implementation, management and maintenance can direct and manage all its resources. Simultaneously identifying, establishing and ensuring additional resources. Thereby capturing and optimising all opportunities which benefit both place and people in a successful and sustainable manner.

MISSION:

To work in partnership with developers, other professionals, custodians (governmental, para-statal etc. institutions), communities, community-based organisations and interested and affected parties in order to achieve high quality, resilient and sustainable urban open space by assisting with experience, expertise, vision building and accordingly synthesized, clear working models & systems. Thereby strategically founding, sustaining and protecting sustainable open space.

KEY OBJECTIVES:

The following objectives guide URBANscapes in its Vision and Mission:

1.  To clearly identify, understand and maximise the renewable potential of the resource base (social, natural & urban) of an open space and the network of open spaces it sits within;

2.  To make open spaces viable and even self-sustainable in terms of natural resource base, appropriate use facilitation and economic opportunities;

3.  To facilitate public and private sector investment in the capital development, continual upgrading and management and maintenance of open space and public place facilities;

4.  To create and facilitate the structures and procedures to implement the effective and efficient management of economic opportunities, human usage and natural resource conservation and replenishment;

5.  To provide comprehensive, creative and high-quality services to achieve sustainable optimal quality open space facilities;

6.  To create a sustainable revenue base;

7.  To assist institutions to improve / ‘top up’ public place urban management and services provision, optimising community involvement;

8.  To create an environment conducive to investment by facilitating the beneficiation of surrounding sites for improvement and development and thereby creating avenues for investment in itself;

9.  To maximise socially responsive & responsible open spaces and public places which maximise / appropriately address (self, family & community development / social cohesion, urban living education & awareness, job creation, skills transfer and empowerment);

10.  To promote optimal sustainable construction and maintenance design and technologies development – e.g. suds (sustainable urban drainage systems), energy, water and biodiversity conservation etc.;