Project Details

Client: SANBI
Category: Bridges
Location: Kirstenbosh Botanical Gardens, Cape Town South Africa
Architect: Mark Thomas Architects
Completed: 2014


The Kirstenbosch Tree Canopy Walkway is a 130 m long sculptural footbridge which winds through and over the tree canopy of the Enchanted Forest at Kirstenbosch. Designed for low visual and physical impact and efficient use of materials, this light, lively steel structure blends unobtrusively into the forest. Named the Boomslang for its shape, the walkway is up to 12 m high, 130 m long, and generally 2 m wide, providing a new experience to visitors including the wheelchair-bound.

Two wider portions provide rest and viewing areas. The walkway was to be built in an existing forest with a requirement to minimise disruption and damage to the vegetation. Aesthetic, environment, economy, fabrication processes and on site handling of components were all considered in the design.

Columns were located in relation to trees, and not necessarily placed at the most efficient structural support positions. To create a light structure, components were designed to perform multiple functions. The deck, hand-rail and safety mesh all contribute to the primary structure. The Boomslang has proven to be a popular visitor experience and a sound investment for the South African National Biodiversity Institute (SANBI).

Awards Won

2015 Silver Loerie

2014 World Design Capital project

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