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KZN's new enviro-living option

20 Sep 2006
Work has begun on a new eco-sensitive development project located in a pristine Kwazulu-Natal wildlife habitat just North of Howick in the Nottingham Road/Balgowan area. Called The Reeds at Balgowan, it consists of nine individually crafted homes designed by a prominent international architect, Stan Field, one of California's leading EnviroLiving advocates.

The Reeds project embodies the spirit of UbuntuStyle living with homes sited and built in harmony with nature and constructed to preserve resources and protect sensitive wildlife habitats as well as native flora and fauna. Locally sourced construction materials, water recycling, energy efficiency, solar technology and wetlands cultivation are central to The Reeds unique EnviroLiving appeal and character.

Stan Field is a past winner of the South African Institute of Architects' Award of Merit and The Reeds at Balgowan has already been recognized by the American Institute of Architects for concept innovation. "Optimum congruency with the natural environment is what I'm striving for in this project," Field says.

"Each structure", according to Field, "has been conceived of as a clam, capable of being opened or securely closed at will. Rock walls form the spine of the outer shell and sliding wooden shutters calibrate the desired levels of exposure. At the core of the house is the kitchen, with its intermittent glass roof letting in sunlight that is absorbed by the rock bed below the floor, radiating heat back into the house."

Spacious, free-flowing homes with the latest conveniences are designed to retain energy, conserve water and have a low profile in the surrounding geography. The development uses building materials from the surrounding vicinity and construction methods that optimize the skill and craft of local labour.

Positioned around a wetlands environment, the houses will be linked by mini retention dams. A water conservation plan will channel rainwater, collected from the roofs along exposed furrows, into the mini dams and eventually back into the existing dams. The natural environments around each home will be created by Patrick Watson, one of South Africa's leading landscape designers known for his hallmark work at Sun City.

The Reeds is targeted at high net worth owners who have an affinity to nature, seclusion and the outdoors. Five of the sites are nestled in a valley overlooking two trout dams. The other four are located along the crest of a hill with Drakensberg mountain views. Advanced security surveillance systems and round-the-clock monitoring will assure safety, privacy and property protection while trained rangers will map trails and provide sign-posted walks.

Wildlife, local flora and fauna and an adjoining indigenous forest will be carefully preserved to maintain the character of the 44.33HA EnviroLiving preserve. This features an abundance of wildlife, indigenous forest trails, spring-fed trout dam and easy access to outdoor recreational pursuits. An Enviro Lodge and Activity Center is planned on adjoining property to provide leisure, learning and lifestyle opportunities.

Sites at The Reeds are priced between R 1,500,000.00 and R 2,000,000.00, although buying the land is conditional on building within 18 months and using Field as the architect, as well as The Reeds project management, construction and landscaping teams. The first home, currently under construction, will be listed shortly for sale in the R6 million-plus range. Responsible architectural, landscaping and home ownership guidelines will ensure the integrity of The Reeds at Balgowan as a wilderness preserve and recreational retreat for executives, off-shore expatriates, foreign owners and retirees.

The site is about 80 minutes by car from Durban and is in close proximity to private schools such as Hilton and Michaelhouse as well as Rawdons, "big five" game lodges, the Midlands Meander, the awe-inspiring Drakensberg, the historic Boer War battlefields, and sub-tropical beaches. The site forms part of the uKhahlamba-Drakensberg Park, now declared a World Heritage Site.

Developer Donovan Neale-May, a South African national and Rhodes University alumnus now living on Monterey Bay, California, says the location lends itself to extensive outdoor sporting opportunities for owners: "A mountain bike trail, forest hikes, trout fishing in the natural spring-fed lake and golf at Boschhoek, together with bird or game watching are some of the leisure activities."

For more information contact 033 266-6456 or 082 324 1740, email or visit

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