Insights South Africa’s first declared Contemporary Rural New Town and Smart Village
May 14, 2021   Sungeni R Karonga

South Africa’s first declared Contemporary Rural New Town and Smart Village

Connecting rural civilization with nature was never easy until Crossways Farm Village established an estate promoting New Ruralism. As explained by their team, New Ruralism is living in a balance with nature where nothing is wasted, but renewable. Crossways offers its visitors, surrounding communities, and the world at large a new lifestyle.

Crossways Farm Village is a 520-hectare property of natural mountains, gorges and farmable land under irrigation, and is divided into three sustainable nodes: One each for conservation, agriculture including the working dairy farm, and sustainable living consisting of a residential component plus a commercial and light industrial node. Crossways overall encompasses 13 developments, of which two are commercial, two are industrial and 9 are residential. The latter comprises 732 erven including open communal spaces, sport and recreational grounds and will cater for 660 private homes. Stands range from 220 to 8,500 square meters in size. Currently, fibre optic cables and state of the art security systems are being installed for a modern, peaceful living.

Crossways encapsulates the tenets of collaboration by partnering with individuals of all socio-economic income groups. Dr Chris Mulder, founder and CEO of CMAI Architects who developed Crossways, believes that New Ruralism is an opportunity for South Africa. He proposes that "land can be divided into only three categories: conservation, agriculture and human settlement". Dr Mulder holds a doctorate in environmental planning and urban design which he has used to create socio-economic and environmental value in South African properties and industries for years.

Self-sufficiency is an integral part of the Village's ethos. Crossways therefore is designed around the principles of food security, rural development, job creation, poverty alleviation and training. In terms of a circular economy, the Village is installing its entire bulk infrastructure and services itself which contributes to the local value chains of resource production and employment. Under way is the development of a Potable Water Treatment Plant to make the Village's water supply reliable and independent. Further plans are to install a solar farm in order to generate electricity off-grid and meet own energy needs.  

Nearby local communities such as Thornhill, consisting of 3000 individuals, are another integral part of the growth projection. The Thornhill Trust was founded to observe the needs of locals within this community, specifically allocating 2.5 % of the initial price of each Crossways title deed as a donation. This, among other lucrative means, ensures the sustainability of Thornhill and its residents.

Evidently, Crossways is an example of how architecture projects are utilizing conservation and sustainability to pilot positive, long lasting social change. ‘Old school ways’ might be their secret ingredient as they invite guests to disconnect from the stresses of modern city life. Consequently, Crossways is initiating a community that fosters mental and physical well being which makes it an invaluable member of PLCnetwork.