New urban park to open at the V&A

An artists impression of Battery Park.

A new 300-million urban park, called Battery Park, will open at the V&A Waterfront later this month.

When completed the park will house open fields, pedestrian routes, a basketball court, and a kids’ play area. It will also give the public unrestricted access to the waterway for water sport activities such as stand-up paddling, kayaking and even swimming. Visitors to the park will also be able to engage in a range of outdoor recreation, entertainment and retail activities in various levels of public spaces.

A piazza on one of the levels of the park will comprise of retail outlets, pedestrian paths, benches and gardens. Stairs leading down from the piazza give visitors access to the canal, from where they can watch water activities or simply meander along the water’s edge. A pavilion similar to the amphitheatre will also host entertainment periodically.

The park is named after Amsterdam Battery which was constructed by the Dutch in 1784 on the site of an earlier fort to defend Table Bay Harbour from attack, particularly from enemy ships.

David Green, chief executive officer of the V&A Waterfront, said the site is of archaeological importance as it still contains the rear ramparts of the historical Amsterdam Battery, one of the oldest structures in Cape Town. “Archaeological digs of the area were undertaken prior to construction of the park, and they uncovered the two circular walls which have been retained. To accentuate the look and feel of the old Battery, stone-filled gabion walls have been used throughout the park.”

The park will feature water-wise fynbos and other indigenous plants and trees. A combination of rainwater harvesting and greywater will be used to maintain the plants.

“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,” said Mr Green. “Equally important, the ruins of the historic Amsterdam Battery have been retained in the park as a new heritage site.

“A key focus of the development was also to offer views of the Waterfront and surrounding CBD, as well as retain and enhance the historically important line of sight between the Battery and the Noon Day gun site on Signal Hill.

“Our overarching vision though, was to provide a functional, convenient, comfortable, safe and unrestricted space with recreational activities for all age groups.”

A four-storey public parking facility will be constructed beneath the park with entrances via Alfred Street or Dock Road. The parking facility will offer 1 206 bays for public, residential and tenant use.

The park forms part of the V&A Waterfront’s Canal District, which was previously used as a car park and occasionally used for events.