Landscape architect, Bernard Oberholzer, from Stanford received a merit award for Planning and Design from the Institute for Landscape Architecture in South Africa (ILASA). The Institute confers the awards every two years. Oberholzer is a member of the Agulhas Icon Design Group (AIDG), who designed and supervised the Southernmost Tip of Africa Icon Project in the Agulhas National Park.
Other Group members were: architect, Stephen Dugmore, two land artists, Strijdom van der Merwe and Simon Max Bannister, and a second landscape architect from Bredasdorp, Megan Anderson.
The icon consists of a giant sculpted relief map of Africa, built into the rugged coastline of Cape Agulhas where the Indian and Atlantic Oceans meet. The map measures 18 metres in length and is possibly the largest existing map of Africa in the world. The map is surrounded by low packed sandstone walls and is centred between four large steel compass points to orientate visitors in the landscape. The iconic monument is designed as an attractive gathering point for visitors with spaces to sit, explore and take photos.
The Department of Tourism, in cooperation with South African National Parks (SANParks), commissioned the project with the aim of creating a world-class tourism attraction at the southernmost tip of Africa that will promote local and international tourism.
The southern tip of Africa, a highly symbolic and meaningful destination, used to be a vague landmark on the untamed coast—often difficult to find and to identify.
SANParks appointed specialists to prepare specific heritage indicators to minimalise the visual impact of the project on the surroundings. The map and steel compass points have a low profile, and only local building materials were used, including sandstone, beach pebbles, shells and plants from the immediate environment.
Raised boardwalks now control pedestrian traffic and protect the coastline that had previously been prone to trampling. The footpaths are designed to be child- and wheelchair-friendly.
Oberholzer holds that landscape architects are “trained to analyse both the natural and social attributes of a site, and that their environmental design expertise allows them to optimally use natural resources”.
Oberholzer and his previous firm, OVP Associates Landscape Architects, also designed the scenic Cape Point tourist destination and Chapman’s Peak Drive viewing and picnic facilities.