The 130m long Kirstenbosch Tree Canopy Walkway which is situated in the Arboretum (Enchanted Forest), below the Protea Garden and above the Concert lawn, allows visitors to Kirstenbosch to witness the forest and its inhabitants from above, a unique vantage point. Its highest point is 12m above the ground (approximately 3 stories).
The Walkway is made entirely of galvanized steel components which have been constructed offsite by Prokon Services’s at their workshop in Blackheath. Each component is 6m long and is painted with than 4 coats of the best quality paints available to prolong its life in the damp Kirstenbosch environment. The handrails are made of a wood called Padauk, a sustainably harvested hardwood from West Africa; and decking consists of stained treated pine slats. On site, the components were hoisted by a small crane, bolted together and mounted on top of long support columns, much like a giant mechano set. A total of 19.6 tons of steel was used and a total of 5.3km of 8mm Ø round bar .
Fitting the giant pieces of the skeleton together proved more difficult than anticipated, especially within a building site as sensitive as the arboretum which is essentially a forest of tree trunks and branches. Maneuvering a mobile crane within this space was a big challenge. Both the painting and the carpentry were long and tedious jobs, all having to be conducted high above ground level. The assembly and shaping of the magnificent handrails was an exceptionally complex and time-consuming process which had to match the curves and undulations of the walkway.
The walkway encounters many interesting trees en route: some old 150 year old trees that predate the garden like Hard Pear – (Olinia ventosa) and Cape Saffron (Cassine peragua), the 100 year old Wild Banana (Strelitzia nicolai). Other younger trees include White Stinkwood (Celtis africana), Cape Beech (Rapanea melanophloes), Coral Tree (Erythrina caffra), Myrtle Quince (Cryptocarya myrtifolia) and the Terblanz Beech from the protea family (Faurea macnaughtonii).
Although the Walkway is wheelchair accessible, the access to the arboretum of steep paths and assistance is advisable.
Opening/Closing times of the garden: September to March 08h00am -19h00pm, and from April to August 08h00-18h00 everyday
Architect: Mark Thomas and Christopher Bisset of Mark Thomas Architects
Structural Engineers: Henry Fagan of Henry Fagan consulting engineers and Andrew Rich of Prokon Services.
Contractors: Slingsby & Gaidien
Extracted from information sent by Project Co-ordinator: Adam Harrower
Photos by Adam Harrower