Dr Chris Mulder, founder of CMAI Architects, has been nominated for what can only be described as the Oscars of landscape architecture – the Sir Geoffrey Jellicoe Award.
This award, the highest honour that the International Federation of Landscape Architects can bestow on someone, recognises only the top three living landscape architects whose lifetime achievements and contributions have had a unique and lasting impact on the welfare of society and the environment.
Now in its tenth year, it is the first time that someone from South Africa, and more importantly, Africa, have been nominated as one of the final three nominees.
From the Kirstenbosch National Botanical Garden Master Plan, the Master Plan design of Pezula Golf Estate and Belvidere Estate in Knysna and Banyan Tree Hotel in the Seychelles, to a myriad of sustainable rural agri-residential property developments all across South Africa – all based around Dr Mulder’s unique design philosophy of creating enduring value in property developments.
Perhaps the most influential of these is Dr Mulder’s and CMAI’s involvement in Thesen Islands as principal designers and co-developer – a contemporary multi award-winning marina set in the ecologically sensitive Knysna River Estuary. With eight years of research and planning and design going into the project before any building took place, Thesen Islands are today a shining example of the new urbanist of traditional neighbourhood design.
Basically the preservation, rehabilitation and enhancement of the biodiversity of the environment through sustainable planning and practices. Something that Dr Mulder is hugely passionate about, as he continues to advocate the need to reconcile people to the countryside. He calls this concept contemporary rural hamlets and villages or rural new towns to accommodate the 50% plus South Africans living outside the so-called urban edges.
A sustainable alternative for people to live, work and play, the latest venture of Dr Mulder, cementing his legacy even further, is the ground-breaking Crossways Farm Village near Port Elizabeth. Consisting of 700 residential, commercial and industrial opportunities as well as 120Ha of irrigated land, Crossways Farm Village is the first Rural new town in South Africa to achieve independence from the nearby municipality to provide sewer, water and electricity through green-design features like rainwater harvesting and solar heating.
Of course, the nomination is not just for vision and design aesthetics but also recognises Dr Mulder’s continuous involvement in job creation, training and skills development as well as poverty alleviation – all on display at Crossways Farm Village.