Professor leaves behind a legacy of protecting cultural landscapes

Professor Fabio Todeschini

It is with great sadness that the Constantia Ratepayers’ and Residents’ Association (CRRA) has learned of the sudden passing of Professor Fabio Todeschini, a leading heritage authority with whom the association had the privilege of being involved with over many decades.

Professor Todeschini was responsible for the preparation of the Inventory of Tangible Heritage Resources in the Constantia-Tokai Valley, one of his many seminal works.

This in-depth study, undertaken over a number of years, of the significance of the historic farms, farmsteads, individual buildings and building complexes in the Constantia-Tokai Valley, recognises the development of the historical architecture and the important cultural resources in the Constantia-Tokai Valley.

Professor Todeschini’s study also shows that in addition to the built landscape of the valley, the old trees around the buildings, the vineyards and the avenues leading to the historic homesteads are all significant in the cultural landscape of national significance.

The CRRA has been privileged to have had the assistance of Professor Todeschini over many years in its steadfast opposition to inappropriate development of the historic farms and farmsteads and in its attempts to prevent the destruction of the cultural landscape.

Professor Todeschini was uncompromising in his convictions for appropriate development.

He was involved in numerous objections and appeals that the CRRA submitted to prevent inappropriate developments in the Constantia-Tokai Valley from being approved by eager authorities.

He was always a strong advocate for the protection of cultural landscapes and the significance of the Constantia-Tokai Valley as part of the Cape Winelands Cultural landscape. His research and studies, including in matters for the protection of heritage, is extensive.

Professor Todeschini also founded the Cape Winelands Cultural Landscape Working Group which is an expression of his deep commitment to the conservation and protection of the cultural landscapes of the Cape Winelands.

As a long-standing member of the Heritage Committee of the Cape Institute of Architects and of committees of Heritage Western Cape as well as the South African Heritage Resources Agency, Professor Todeschini was always resolute in his convictions on heritage and in his opposition to inappropriate developments.

Professor Todeschini recently prepared in-depth reports for the CRRA which formed part of the association’s objections and appeal against an inappropriate development proposed for Mount Prospect farm, the sole surviving authentic Victorianised farmstead in the Constantia-Tokai Valley on the boundary of Groot Constantia.

He prepared a Nomination of Mount Prospect as a Provincial Heritage Site and made representations on behalf of the CRRA at Heritage Western Cape. This work by Professor Todeschini will continue to inspire the CRRA and will be carried on in his name. Professor Todeschini was also responsible for the declaration of other sites in the Valley as Provincial Heritage Sites, including Sillery.

Professor Todeschini will be deeply missed by the CRRA. The CRRA will honour this great man by steadfastly continuing its relentless fight to protect the cultural landscape of the Constantia-Tokai Valley against inappropriate development.

* Yvonne Leibman is an executive member of the CRRA committee.