Heartwood Properties, a 4AX listed commercial development company, has partnered with renowned landscape artist and sculptor, Strijdom van der Merwe, to transform the outdoor space of a popular office block, Willow Wood, in Fourways, Gauteng.

Van der Merwe is famous for his installations using nature as his core theme using only the natural materials found on site, from wood and rock to sand and stone. At the forefront of environmentalism in art, van der Merwe creates work that resonates with the meditative quiet that one finds in the natural world. His goal for Willow Wood is to highlight the fragile balance between human existence and nature giving employees the opportunity to take a break from their busy day and just breathe.


Much research has been done on how to improve employee productivity while at work. Landscaped outdoor spaces, especially within the city limits, is ideal for employee wellness. Interacting with nature several times a day let’s employees recharge their brains and helps to maintain a healthy focus on daily tasks.

CEO of Heartwood Properties, John Whall says: “It is one thing to construct a beautiful building but a person’s imagination and sense of creativity is really ignited when they are outdoors in a natural environment. However most jobs mean sitting at a desk indoors all day. We recognise Strijdom’s unique ability to create a space that inspires and promotes cohesion and positivity, which is why we are so excited about his ideas for Willow Wood”.

The landscaped area will consist of 8000 square meters. Van der Merwe’s plans include walk ways that criss-cross each other, inspired by ley lines which is thought to run underneath the surface of the earth connecting points of healing energy. At the end of each walk way is a bench and at the opposite end a large stone. This represents man in conversation. He is reflecting on the natural environment around him and acknowledging the fragile balance that exists between humans and nature. Dotted around the space are two ‘sculptural’ installations. A stone and at the other a bench, will be used to expose the earth’s surface. In the centre of the space is an architectural sculpted installation, a giant Cube. This will be used as a centre point for functions and shall be visible from the road to attract attention.

Two types of natural grass will be planted. Long grass to form a kind of barrier between the inner garden and the outside with islands that link to the design of the walk way lines. With the shorter natural grass on the inside. The grass will all differ in height.

Van der Merwe comments: “It’s sometimes a challenge to visualise the end result of an installation, especially in the midst of the chaos during construction. What really helps is when the client is open to exploring ideas with me, as was the case with Heartwood Properties, who allowed me to be as creative as I like. A good interaction always reflects in the final product.”

The fourth and final phase of Willow Wood Office Park is set for completion in March 2019.