Just in time for this year’s silly season, when tourism hits its peak in Cape Town, the V&A Waterfront will be opening a new urban park. To be completed in October, Battery Park will integrate Cape Town’s CBD and the waterfront through a series of pedestrian routes, including one alongside the canal.
The 12,000m² park forms part of the V&A’s Canal District and can be accessed from either Dock Road, Fort Road, Ebenezer Road or Alfred Street. A four-storey public parking facility is constructed beneath the park with entrances via Alfred Street or Dock Road. When it is complete, the parking facility will offer 1206 bays for public, residential and tenant use.
Each area of the park contains public walking paths and benches. Landscaping consists of waterwise fynbos and other indigenous plants and trees. A combination of rainwater harvesting and greywater is used to maintain the plants.
The site is of archaelogical importance as it still contains the rear ramparts of the historical Amsterdam Battery, one of the oldest structures in Cape Town. Archaelogical digs of the area were undertaken prior to construction of the park, and they uncovered the two circular walls which have been retained.
The Amsterdam Battery was constructed by the Dutch in 1784 on the site of an earlier fort (dating back to 1781) to defend Table Bay Harbour from attack, particularly from enemy ships. In 1827 the battery was converted by the British to house prisoners from the Eastern Cape Frontier wars. The battery was substantially remodelled by the British in 1882 and strengthened in 1879 with surplus material from the Breakwater quarry. In 1898 it was disbanded. It was partially demolished in 1905 to make way for the harbour and railway network extensions into the dock area.
To accentuate the look and feel of the old battery, stone-filled gabian walls have been used throughout the park.
“A key objective of the V&A Waterfront has always been to re-establish the connection between the city and the sea, which we have achieved with the pedestrian path that runs alongside the canal. Equally important, the ruins of the historic Amsterdam Battery have been retained in the park as a new heritage site,” said David Green, CEO of the V&A Waterfront.
The V&A Waterfront has investment R300m for developing the new Battery Park and garage, and preserving the remnants of the old Amsterdam Battery, and R10m on additional pedestrian links in the Canal District – improving connectivity to the park.