Construction World

More than ever, urban environments in Africa require a new development approach.  

Cities in Africa need a new design approachThis is evident from the pervasive poverty, inadequate infrastructure, growth in slums, weak urban-rural linkages, the marginal role played by local governments, and climate change. The United Nations (UN) Report on the State of World Cities predicted that, by 2050, Africa will have an urbanised population of 1,2 billion, representing nearly 25% of the world’s Urban population.

According to the New and Emerging Challenges in Africa Summary Report by the Economic Commission for Africa, cities have, despite the many challenges, played a pivotal role in sustaining economic growth in recent years, generating about 55% of the Continent’s total gross domestic product (GDP).

“Cities that are not properly planned and managed are a burden on the natural resources, impacting negatively on the environment and the living conditions of its inhabitants,” says Gerrit Jordaan, Director of Holm Jordaan Architects & Urban Designers.

“That being said,” Jordaan continues, “Through strategic urban planning, well-planned and well-managed cities can minimise environmental losses and generate creative solutions to enhance the quality of the environment and mitigate, or even reverse, the negative consequences of climate change”.

Five principles of Sustainable Neighborhood Planning, a study compiled by the UN Habitat, shows that urban form and density, together with an environmentally-friendly public transport system, will reduce energy consumption, produce fewer carbon emissions per capita, making people less dependent on transport, with subsequent positive impacts on the environment. These principles adhere the to the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

This need for a new, integrated approach to urban planning and development, lead Holm Jordaan Architects & Urban Designers to merge with GWA Studio to form a new firm, NEW URBAN.  

According to Gary White, Director of GWA Studio, said approach would entail the following - high density, mixed-use and transit-oriented development; the design of the public realm through form-based codes and responsive architecture; integrated street networks and the removal of freeways, where appropriate. 

“Sustainable urbanism is categorised by incremental urbanism through neighborhood development, suburban retro-fit and the creation of walkable streets.  Densification, optimisations of systems, and efficient public transport and mixed-use development is a prerequisite”.

Adds Jordaan, “Integrated design is not just taking a lot of - sometimes conflicting - aspects into consideration. It is a way of creating urban solutions that use as little as possible means to give as many people as possible the best enabling environment”.

It is this goal NEW URBAN, with 80 years of combined experience, aims to achieve - to provide Africa with the much-needed new integrated approach to urban development. 

About NEW URBAN

NEW URBAN is the result of 80 years of combined experience and a new, integrated design approach. Our team of talented, young designers and experienced mentors combine the latest technology and thinking with a legacy of responsible and responsive design projects.

The Holm Jordaan Group has a history of being at the forefront of environmental thinking in South Africa, thanks to its founding members Dieter and Albrecht Holm, who had founded the firm Holm and Holm Architects in 1962, winning numerous competitions and awards over the years. During 2018, the practice GWA Studio -established by Gary White in 2003, merged with the Holm Jordaan Group. 

GWA Studio has a history of being at the forefront of ‘new-urbanist’ thinking in Africa, for which they have won numerous international accolades.

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