Twenty Years as NWA

Posted by New World on Tuesday, February 9, 2016 Under: Company
It's true! This year is 20 years since New World Associates was born!! I can hardly believe it but a lot of water has flown under the bridge since 1996 when I needed to develop a new company name and image. That happened when my former branch office of EDP (SA) known as EDP (Zimbabwe) split with its parent company.

I had been with the EDP group for seven years since finishing the BL course at TUKS and, after 3 years in the Randburg and Swaziland offices, opened the Harare office. Due to the distance and other factors, our partnership ended in 1996, hence, the old EDP (Zimbabwe) was reborn as New World Associates, Landscape Architects. I owe a lot to my training with Gareth and Sarah Singleton who I worked for as a young Landscape Architect. They were always professional and highly skilled; being British trained they added a new horizon to my South African training.

So, New World Associates, or NWA, is 20 years old this year, although the practice is effectively 25 years old having begun in late 1991. That's a lot of years in the world of professional practice, which has seen the office work from Harare for 12 years and Cape Town for 13. The furthest afield we've worked is Lake Victoria just south of the Equator. Most of our work has been in Zimbabwe and the SW Cape as a result.

We did a lot of work of wide variety all around Zimbabwe being the only Landscape Architectural practice in the country. Notable team players were Jonathan Leavens, Kirsten Bailey and Asun Lorenzo. Key projects were the Southampton Life Centre roof garden and mall, the National University of Science and Technology and the Victoria Falls Safari Lodge amongst many others.

We did a lot of work with the new architectural partnership Mwamuka Mercuri & Associates, and came to know Vernon Mwamuka and Eugenio Mercuri very well. Other practices we worked with were Brian Colquhoun and Partners, SRK and Fleet Utria. They were very exciting years in the heyday of the 90s. The practice relocated to Cape Town in 2003 as the economy failed.

Prior to moving I had predicted that a pizza would one day cost Z$1,000,000. Inflation was so high I needed a spreadsheet to calculate it every month at something like 25% per month! One day, Errol Tarr, a landscape contractor who worked for us, phoned me up and told me that he had bought a pizza for over $1m! It was time to leave but it was hard to say goodbye to a lifetime dream of practising where I grew up.

Relocation in Cape Town was challenging but the practice has survived. Flagship projects include The Orangerie and Bloemhof Electricity HQ, but there have been many others including a lot of VIAs and some heritage work. My first degree in Botany from UCT has held me in good stead in navigating indigenous and endemic planting schemes in the SW Cape, a very challenging environment with high winds and hot, dry summers to contend with.

The company colours have just been revamped slightly and are based on turquoise as they have always have been. The look is more subtle than the older array but a little more sophisticated too. The sea is an endless source of energy and fascination and the blue colours symbolise this.

Colour features highly in our design approach and is especially important in mitigating visual impact. Subtlety is the secret to accommodating many colours in the landscape or working only with a few. Our sophistication in selecting plants in good colour and foliage combination is one of our trademarks or design signatures.

To the next 20 years!

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