Reinventing Our Cities For A Sustainable Future - Business Media MAGS

Sunday Times Green

Reinventing Our Cities For A Sustainable Future

Beth Amato takes a look at Menlyn Maine, an ambitious attempt to rethink the way we design living spaces in South Africa.

More than 50 per cent of the world’s population live in cities and major metropolitan areas. This puts monumental pressure on resources and infrastructure, particularly in relation to energy, waste, and water. What then is the way forward?

Menlyn Maine in Pretoria East is one of 16 “green cities” being developed in various parts of the world. These green cities aim to rethink the way urban spaces are designed by using cutting-edge technology to conserve our natural resources in a modern, innovative and sustainable way.

Launched in September 2016, Menlyn Maine is the single largest development of its kind in Africa. This 315 000m2 locale promises to support a population of around 20 000 people, comprises offices, a shopping area, luxury hotels, a casino and entertainment zone, and (predominantly underground) parking for 5 000 cars. It is also home to a phased development of more than 500 residential apartments of varying sizes, which, once completed, will give residents access to facilities such as daycare, meeting rooms, a rooftop pool, a terrace bar and round-the-clock security. There is even a state-of-the-art specialist hospital in construction.

The attraction of accessibility 

As far as its green credentials go, Henk Boogertman, executive director and chief architect of Menlyn Maine, says that while no investigations have been done as yet into how much carbon footprint has been spared, the buildings in Menlyn Maine consume about 50 per cent less water and energy than the average commercial building. He also claims that they generate 33 per cent less greenhouse gas emissions leading to operational savings of over R100 per square metre per annum.

He also says that the development is about 80 per cent complete and could take another four years
to finish.

Boogertman expressed the view that since Menlyn Maine is a privately-owned development, the “control and high standards with regards to design, construction and overall precinct management that is provided by a private enterprise ensure a high standard of overall development, which underpins the quality and sustainability of the investment from a long-term point of view”.

He goes on to say that in terms of attracting tenants and residents, “the main drawcard is the mixed-use facilities and tenancies that the development offers. This is a very friendly, safe and walkable city precinct and the variety of facilities such as residential, office, hotel, shopping, sport and entertainment, all on your doorstep and within walking distance is what makes Menlyn Maine the address of choice to live, work, play and invest in”.

Because electricity supply is such a critical issue in South Africa at present, we asked how load shedding has affected the development and the future of sustaining such an undertaking.

“Yes, load shedding is a very real problem for all of us. Most of our buildings and facilities have back-up power, but this comes at an additional cost. We are currently investigating the installation of additional solar and photovoltaic panel installations to service some of our buildings. Designing commercial buildings that are completely off the grid is unfortunately not yet commercially viable from our point of view, but designing buildings that use fewer utilities and resources is still a major priority for us.”

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