Mobility in Sandton


In light of the EcoMobility World Festival taking place this month, Justin Brien contributes this piece about the Sandton CBD.

During the early 1970’s a large amount of businesses started to leave the Johannesburg CBD and by 1982 it was estimated that approximately 350 000m² had been relocated in the northern suburbs. Sandton has since become one of the most coveted real estate premises for business in South Africa.

With the development of Sandton City and the collection of new commercial holdings, Sandton has slowly established it’s self as Johannesburg’s second CBD. Recent statistics have shown that Sandton is now set to overtake downtown Johannesburg in terms of commercial office space. The completion of the current developments will increase Sandton office supply to 1.7 million square meters, giving it the biggest area of office space in the country. To put this into perspective, since 2012 more than 115 000m² of new developments have been added.

The problem with these kinds of developments is that as security is seen as a core part of building design, most of the buildings that line the streets of Sandton do not interact or give back to the street. As a consequence of this design decision, the streets have become single purpose transport networks which mainly cater for cars and present little more than hard edges and undesirable path ways for pedestrians.



Currently it is estimated that 17 000 people pass through the Sandton Gautrain station each day. Although it sounds like a large number, it is a small fraction of the estimated 100 000 commuters moving around Sandton on a daily basis. As this number is estimated to increase by 27 000 more commuters within the next two years it is clear that mobility in Sandton needs to be addressed.

In order to successfully satisfy the needs of Sandton’s transient population, the streets need to be freed from the everyday congestion of vehicular traffic and present more opportunities for pedestrians, as well as promote the use of public transport. This is the aim of the upcoming EcoMobility World Festival and Exhibition.

This month long festival will take place in October 2015 and is organised by the ICLEI (Local Governments for Sustainability).The primary goal is to raise awareness about global carbon emissions and promote ideas of change with in the transport sector. This year the festival will be held in the Sandton CBD and certain roads will be closed in order to make it a pedestrian orientated CBD.

During October a large number of people will not be able to travel into Sandton by private car. Meaning cyclists, pedestrians and public transport modes will be given preference throughout the streets of the Sandton CBD. The success of this festival will aid in a much needed boost for Johannesburg’s public transport network, as well using the streets to create a new platform for social cohesion.




Visit the website for more info on the EcoMobility World Festival

Justin Brien is currently completing his Masters of Architecture degree at Wits University Johannesburg.

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