FSG has been working at upgrading Maropeng, to make it more welcoming and better equipped to facilitate the tourism industry. The site will contain sculptures, benches, aggregate pathways, and picnic areas for use by the public, against a scenic backdrop of indigenous trees. During the past month, there has been fantastic progress at the site. The endemic plants that make up the fauna and flora have been delivered and planted. The exposed aggregate pathways have been cast and the granite stone benches have been delivered, and are being placed. The foundations that are designed to withstand over two tons of weight combined are being lain for the stone sculptures that will commemorate our ancient forefathers.
The FSG team working on site have over 40 years combined experience in horticulture, landscaping, and construction. FSG is sparing nothing to give this project the best, technology previously reserved for agriculture is being used to ensure the successful growth of the plants. This site is an incredibly sensitive area and FSG had to take enormous care. An ecologist came to remove certain plant species that would be stored safely, to be replanted at the end of project. FSG was briefed by an archaeologist on what to do if they should make any important discoveries. The top layer of the soil was removed, but kept, it will be replaced at the end of the project to ensure that they keep with the natural growth of the site. Water retention agents and microbes alongside some other products are being introduced into this sensitive ecosystem to ensure the optimal establishment of vulnerable and protected species that were temporarily removed from the site prior to the earthworks and development. The rehabilitation of salvaged soil and plant species will give visitors the impression that the picnic site has been established for centuries, while FSG’s ongoing site maintenance will ensure the area remains pristine and neat.
One of the biggest challenges faced by the team was the extremely dry weather conditions and the wind. Being on the southern slope of a “koppie”, the strong winds wreaked havoc with some of the new trees that were planted, damaging their branches.
Recently, on the 9th of September, the weather marked a new reality in the West Rand, proving that it could disrupt the never-ending hustle and bustle in Johannesburg as a tornado swept through the region. Maropeng is sheltered purely because of the way the land lies and the fact that the site was built with preservation in mind. In fact, a chicken farm a mere 2KM away took heavy damage to hail and the extreme winds, while Maropeng was largely unscathed. The increases in rainfall, however, have greatly assisted with the deep water leaching that is so necessary for this site.
FSG has had to practice extreme adaptability, working with what nature gives them. Architectural plans had to change occasionally when extremely large rock plates that simply could not be removed, presented themselves. Rather reminiscent of the challenges faced by our forefathers in the stone age, FSG was greeted by the spirit of Maropeng and has embraced each challenge the land has presented, working respectfully with nature and adapting accordingly.
Interesting rock types FSG has come across include Dolerite and Quartzite, which was rather exciting because those are the same rock types most commonly used to make stone tools by our human ancestors.
Over 200 custom designed and cut granite blocks each of a different size had to be carefully placed with precision to achieve the desired seating as per the landscape architect’s (from GREENinc landscape architecture) design, and each individual block was a challenge on its own. Preparing the surface correctly was critical, in order to create the correct levels and the perfect compaction.
Another exciting development is the sculptures. A large sculpture of a stone axe, alongside a slightly smaller sculpture of a stone blade, will stand to remind us how far we have come as a species, and serve as a beautiful tribute to our own humble beginnings as intelligent life forms on this planet.
Stay updated on our progress at Maropeng, now the really big, exciting parts will start to fall into place. To read more about our sculptures and granite slabs, read our next blog post!