South Africa’s Smart Cities are Driving Sustainability

5 days 12 hours ago
green spaces innovatively in a bid to bring nature to the concrete jungle.

One of the most eye-catching features of Harbour Arch, Cape Town’s new 5.8-hectare mixed-use precinct, will be the complex’s green rooftop towering over the city’s harbour.

Property development and nature might not automatically go hand in hand, but more and more developers are moving towards incorporating nature into building design.

Green spaces prove popular, even in major city centres where they are seemingly rare. Rooftop gardens are springing up in central business districts in the likes of Hong Kong, Tokyo, Rotterdam and New York. Likewise, urban farming initiatives to boost food resources are fast becoming a global trend.

In South Africa, Johannesburg has long been considered the world’s largest man-made urban forest – boasting more than 6 million trees. And Cape Town’s CBD is set to change with the arrival of its first environmentally-friendly mixed-use development: Harbour Arch. Perhaps surprisingly, one of the most eye-catching features of this 5.8-hectare mixed-use precinct will be the complex’s green rooftop towering over the city’s harbour.

With the rise of “smart cities” – mixed-use precincts – developers are driven to find ways to create green spaces innovatively in a bid to bring nature to the concrete jungle.

Nicholas Stopforth, Managing Director of Amdec Property Developments – the group behind South Africa’s award-winning Melrose Arch and the new Harbour Arch – says green spaces are essential for people to feel safe and secure in an environment.

Nature has long been lauded for its positive impact on the human psyche. There are countless studies and reports on the benefits of green spaces for our mental health.

New-urbanist precincts such as Melrose Arch and Harbour Arch revolve around the principle of being close to everything you need in daily life, with all your requirements accessible by foot. But it’s the outdoor spaces – the piazza-style squares and courtyards for dog walking or people watching – that give these inner-city developments a sense of community.

There has been huge demand for business, retail and residential spaces within Melrose Arch. So much so that a new residential complex – One on Whiteley – within the precinct is currently under construction.

But just what makes a smart city? Combining the perks of modern technology with the feel of old-time village living – with walkable, pedestrianised streets and green spaces.

But “green”, by definition, can mean many things.

It’s the colour you allegedly turn when you’re sick, envious or inexperienced. You are encouraged to “eat your greens” to stay in good health. You can green an urban area by planting trees, or even green your home to make a positive impact on the environment.

The world over, developers are under pressure to drastically minimise water usage and incorporate eco-friendly technologies that will benefit the planet in the long-term.

“Modern trends in development and construction are predominantly focused on issues relating to sustainability,” shares Stopforth. “Residents and investors want to know what is being done to reduce impact on the environment.”

“Everything about development today is about sustainability and about energy-wise innovation, water saving technology, heat-reducing aspects, and the like. And when you use sustainable technology, you also reduce the cost of occupation long-term and obtain a competitive edge.”

Sustainability and eco-friendly innovation is a key focus area of Amdec’s developments, with green building initiatives including refuse recycling, water-saving devices, low-energy LED lighting, and rainwater harvesting.

With water scarcity being the new normal for South Africa, developers must be implementing water-wise strategies from the ground up. Harbour Arch, for example, has been designed to harvest rain water to reduce the load on municipal supply.

“There’s huge benefit in executing water-saving measures at the construction stage, rather than retro-fitting. Not only is it better to have systems in place at the start, but it saves money in the long run,” Stopforth explains.

Recycled water – either rain harvested or grey water – will be used for flushing, gardening and landscaping.

“Ultimately, we need to reduce our impact. It’s better for business, and it’s better for the planet,” concludes Stopforth.

The post South Africa’s Smart Cities are Driving Sustainability appeared first on Leading Architecture & Design.

MDS Designs New Office Development for Oxford Road - Johannesburg

5 days 13 hours ago
Contemporary office building designed by MDS Architecture

The new building on Oxford Road designed by MDS Architecture embraces natural materials such as fair face brickwork, steel, timber and concrete, which, together with the steel and timber balconies and black exposed steel staircases, evokes a New York style loft aesthetic.

MDS Architecture has designed a contemporary office building on a prominent site along Rosebank’s busy Oxford Road for Ossero (Pty) Ltd. With demolition of the existing building now complete, the earthworks, lateral support walls and piling has commenced and is expected to be completed by the end of the year. The building’s final completion is anticipated to be the end of November 2018.

The rectangular site is located along the Gautrain servitude and is positioned between Oxford Road and 9th Street, with the main access along 9th Street.  The L-shaped building offers 6300 m2 GLA and measures five storeys in height with four floors of basement parking. The top floor will comprise of a clubhouse, gym and a landscaped roof garden.

Chad Sampson, MDS Architecture’s partner in charge of the project, says, “The client wanted the building to have maximum exposure along Oxford Road, and to incorporate the views to the east. Therefore the building’s west and eastern facades were designed using a high performance double glazing, as well as large vertical screen walls and light weight steel balconies, which act as deep sunscreens, to assist with the shading.”

The building embraces natural materials such as fair face brickwork, steel, timber, concrete, living walls and black and white painted walls. Flush-jointed fair face brick is used as an architectural feature. Together with the steel and timber balconies and black exposed steel staircases, the building evokes a New York style loft aesthetic and a “modern industrial chic” architectural language.

There are four parking basements, with the first level jutting up above the ground, forming a green base on which the main building sits (the base will incorporate a vertical garden of screens and creepers). The lift lobbies will be enclosed by a continuous south facing glass curtain wall, allowing maximum natural light into the common areas.

The post MDS DESIGNS NEW OFFICE DEVELOPMENT FOR OXFORD ROAD appeared first on Leading Architecture & Design.

Property Development Partnerships Produce earth Friendly Buildings

5 days 13 hours ago
Plascon was the natural choice as coatings partner for 140 West Street Sandton

The Perfect marriage: As an advocate for the green revolution, Plascon’s future forward environmental consideration in manufacturing has earned them the ISO certification for environmental sensitivity, making them the perfect partner for 140 West Street.

Who would have believed that modern architectural splendour could be environmentally friendly and sustainable? Well, it can, and it is!

Leading the way in this trend is the brand-new office property at 140 West Street in Sandton, Johannesburg – a prime example of magnificent design incorporating a multitude of eco-friendly features, and well-deserving of its 4-Star Green Star SA rating.

The Green Star rating was awarded by the GBCSA (Green Building Council of South Africa) to property developers Zenprop, who planned the construction of the iconic 27 000m2 P-grade office property to incorporate green design principles as well as using building materials and coatings from certified sustainable resources with human-friendly ingredients.

A major earth-friendly design element of the building, which comprises two linked towers constructed on a landscaped podium, is daylighting and electricity conservation which allows for natural daylight throughout all office spaces. This is also a people-friendly feature, as natural light is considered more beneficial to humans for many reasons*1

To minimise electricity use, if motion sensors detect that an office is vacant, the internal LED*2 light fixtures turn off. The HVAC*3 system supplies a high rate of fresh air to occupants, while energy and water consumption are closely monitored. 140 West Street not only harvests rainwater but also excess irrigation water, which is used to flush toilets and further irrigate the property’s landscaped areas. Water is heated using air-to-water heat pumps on the roofs and in the basements.

Lifestyle, health and productivity of the occupants – this was another major design consideration for Zenprop. In addition to reducing the standard consumption of building materials, they also actively sought finishes and materials with a minimal impact on natural resources and with low environmental impact. And this is where Plascon came in.

Designed for Life

Plascon has embraced the green revolution with open arms, with all manufacturing plants boasting ISO certification for environmental sensitivity, making Plascon the natural choice as coatings partner for 140 West Street. While Plascon has been around for 128 years, the company has spent many years, investing in research and development to align their paints with earth-friendly practices.

Carol Ras, Category Manager for Plascon Professional, is proud that Plascon was selected to be part of the 140 West Street development. She outlines the company’s 360° Partnership Pledge, which honours partnerships for life. ‘’Plascon addresses the project requirements from start to finish – beginning with the assessment, then the specification, application, approval and all the way through to the guarantee of our products.”

The surfaces of 140 West Street were prepared using Plascon’s Polycell Masonry Patching Plaster, Waterproofing Compound and Multiseal. Plascon Professional Plaster Primer – PP950 (an Alkali burn-resistance primer) was specified as it has lower pH levels than other plaster primers, which may have high pH levels on new or hairline-cracked plaster.

Other Plascon products used in the 140 West Street project include:

Professional Superior Low Sheen paint for columns, walls and dry walling. Plascon Cashmere – in all general areas. Professional Marroca Sand Textured – in internal lift shafts. Water Based Velvaglo – used for doors, door frames, handrails and shuttle lift steel structure, galvanised and mild steel. Professional Contractors Matt – ceilings and soffits. Plascon Woodcare Sunproof – timber veneer. Plascon Brick and Concrete Marking Paint – used for demarcation.

Plascon’s 360° Partnership Pledge encompasses a holistic approach to each project, and is a good recipe for complete client satisfaction, says Ras. “Choosing the right colours and the right products is critical, and as part of the 360° offering we provide colour consultation at Plascon’s world-class Spaces Showroom based at the Design Quarter in Fourways, Johannesburg. Here, we can examine mood boards and discuss colour matching. We also offer advice and, for those customers outside of Gauteng, we provide on-line support featuring digital colour suggestions.”

‘‘140 West Street embodies our philosophy of ensuring we make a difference in all that we do,” adds Ras, “and Plascon is exceptionally proud to be a catalyst of change – be it in the professional space or through our sustainable and world class product offerings. Just as the immense collaboration of the team of architects, quantity surveyors, designers, environmental specialists and construction workers made 140 West Street possible, we at Plascon remain committed to our promise of improving the lives of others.”


  2. LED = light-emitting diode
  3. HVAC = heating, ventilation and air condition system


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