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New urbanism heralds a return to the old

Posted On Wednesday, 05 June 2002 10:01 Published by eProp Commercial Property News
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NEW urbanism, the concept that produced Melrose Arch, a R3bn mixed-use development north of Johannesburg, is a return to the socially friendly settlement of old, says Paul Murrain, director of UK group Urban Design.


Property-Housing-ResidentialMurrain, who was part of Melrose Arch's urban landscaping design team, says new urbanism embraces the theoretical principles that produced old cities.

It brings together in a single space a number of key features encompassing residence, workplace, retail and other social amenities such as schools and churches.

Murrain says it is a move away from principles that produced modern suburbs, most of which are essentially hideouts for the super-rich.

Many suburban areas, especially in SA, developed far from city centres, underpinned by the thought that tranquility came with exclusiveness and isolation. Because of this, social amenities like shopping malls were developed at some distance from residential areas.

However, the perimeter wall around Melrose Arch and seen in other developments purporting to embrace new urbanism challenges Murrain's view that the concept is founded on 'socially friendly' principles.

Murrain says the wall was introduced by local security consultants; despite it, the development's street design integrates perfectly with the surrounding structures.

Future developments, he says, ought to consider transparent perimeter fences to keep the image friendly, but secure.

Housing for low-income earners needs to be included in these developments, he says. It is in the UK.

Still in its infancy in SA, new urbanism appears set for takeoff. The concept has also been embraced by Cape Town's multibillionrand Century City, which encompasses commercial, retail and residential components.

Murrain spoke at the SA Property Owners' Association annual convention in Durban last week.

Last modified on Tuesday, 27 May 2014 08:52