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WINNER ILASA Merit Award of Excellence

ILASA Awards 2015

upmarket residential homes, sporting facilities such as golf courses, nature and heritage reserves, and parks within a gated community. IRS was encouraged as part of a government strategy to diversify the economic base of Mauritius from sugar cane to diversified tourism and the international property market. At first, IRS was highly successful but when the recession hit, it became clear other development models might be more resilient. The original concept of Azuri Resort Town was an unusual blend of IRS and local mixed development by privately owned companies. Azuri’s topography determined the layout, with lagoons, conservation of indigenous vegetation, the river, and dominance of the barachois (coastal lagoons or ‘sea dams’) to be taken into account. The majority of the site had traditionally been cultivated for sugar cane and the poor natural beach at the river mouth had deteriorated due to silt contamination and the creep of agriculture. However, the site could be used to take advantage of seaward slopes and excellent ocean views. A broad plan was prepared for the site, based on concepts by UK-based Leonard Design Architects, with a team taking the


Pro Landscaper Africa / October 2015

scheme forward, including Planning Partners International. The full Azuri project will ultimately consist of several phases and, to date, Phase 1 has been completed including a hotel, spa, commercial units and eight residential apartment blocks, while the first apartment building of Phase 2 is now under way. The Phase 1 master plan integrated private and public amenities, with commercial buildings creating and defining a publicly accessible beach front. A hotel acts as a recreational service centre for the resort, and apartment blocks of varying character and scale create a mixed neighbourhood of local and international residents. With a strong landscape framework, the development enjoys enhanced features such as an ‘artificial beach’ and an urban tropical forest. Time will show the benefit of such extensive plantings, not only for their scenic and ecological value but for the benefit of the local microclimate. While the tropical island climate is a novelty for tourists, permanent residents require shade from the midday sun and shelter from the south-easterly trade winds. Future phases of development and landscaping will continue to further diversify the

environment in and around Azuri. These phases will include the River Club, Waterfront, Beach Club, and Forest Club. Waterscapes, of course, had to be a central theme, with Azuri Resort Town offering a unique convergence of watersport and training opportunities thanks to six natural water areas. There are further opportunities to create swimming pools, watercourses, man-made islands and beaches. The local trade winds provide a steady source of power for dinghies and windsurfers. The river valley and barachois provide sheltered areas for watersport training, with the open sea beyond providing activities such as kayaking, sailing, scuba diving and snorkelling, as well as dolphin and whale watching. Before construction could start, Planning Partners International had to deal with significant areas of typical tropical island vegetation, as well as sugar cane, of which many areas will have to be removed to accommodate future development. However, exotic tropical trees were identified and surveyed to preserve them as features within the urban design, while extensive mangrove thicket was also integrated and protected by raised boardwalks. Woodland will be sensitively managed to frame beach areas, providing shade and seclusion, and eroded areas of the beach front will be restored to lush, indigenous coastal vegetation, which will quickly create a sustainable tropical environment, attracting birds and displaying native flowering trees and shrubs. The overgrown forest running either side of the river will be restored through clearance of

Pro Landscaper Africa November/December 2015