of June 2008
South African cities: management will sustain
Whats new and happening?
Environment-sensitive buildings across South Africa
GREEN BUILDINGS BRIEFS
Is the rejuvenation
of Johannesburgs inner city sustainable?
PLANNING & DESIGN
Will the Ellis Park Precinct be more than
just a pretty face?
& DESIGN BRIEFS
WASTE AND POLLUTION MANAGEMENT
Diatoms: a novel method for monitoring urban
IFAT international reveals trends in waste management
Lilliesleaf alters the landscape
Buffer strips: apartheid legacy
Public participation of value?
Urban management required
African cities are in desperate need of better management of waste and the urban
environment, as well as maintenance practices.
the issues of the day is of utmost importance in publishing a magazine. In the case of
Urban Green File, the topic is broad: urban environmental planning and management.
And it is
difficult to ensure all relevant topics are covered in each edition. However, with ones
ear close to the ground and by criss-crossing our cities on many visits to the offices of
municipalities, developers and consultants, it is not impossible to stay abreast of the
topics the industry deems important.
the move towards energy- and water-efficient buildings is significant. Urban Green File
has, therefore, dedicated several pages to the topic of green buildings. Urban
rejuvenation is another subject many designers, property owners and municipal officials
face so it also gets significant space in this magazine. In this edition, the city visit
and the Ellis Park Precinct address urban rejuvenation.
obvious South African cities will only become environmentally-sound once better waste and
pollution management practices are adopted. Litter and pollution in the form of
solid-waste disposal, sub-standard sanitation infrastructure, and effluent emanating from
households and industry, threaten the very existence of our cities. For this edition,
Urban Green File travelled to Munich in Germany to source information on the latest
of South Africas cities does not only depend on waste management but also on sound
general urban management and maintenance. I, for one, cannot help but worry that all the
money and effort being spent on the upgrading of 2010 stadium precincts could go to waste.
Considerable funds were spent a decade ago when Johannesburg hosted the All Africa Games
yet the landscaping and street furniture around the improved Ellis Park
Precinct quickly went to waste after the closing ceremony. Are Johannesburgs city
officials taking the need for precinct management into account in their budgets this time
round? It would be a travesty for investment in the Ellis Park Precinct to go to waste
after the closing of the 2010 Fifa World Cup!
accordance with our drive to remain relevant to our readership, the content package of
Urban Green File is constantly reinvented.
notice some regular sections, such as battle of the burbs, planning
personality and tree of the issue have fallen away. This has allowed us
to give more space to in-depth articles while balancing this with in-brief items of
interest. We invite you to write in and tell the Urban Green File team about your views on
the magazine. - Gerald Garner
Aliens make way for fynbos
Vergelegen wine estate near Somerset West is undertaking a massive alien-vegetation
clearing project. The R14-million, 10-year programme hopes to restore 2 000 ha of land to
pristine fynbos. Urban Green File has learned that 8-million, densely-packed invasive
trees have already been cleared.
Vergelegen CEO Don Tooth, the estate realised the full extent of the alien-vegetation
threat after a major fire in 1997.
fire was driven by 160 km/hour winds that swept through the property. We realized the
alien vegetation would more than double and seriously set back all previous environmental
vegetation uses 50 to 800 times more water than fynbos, clearing it has already boosted
water flow and wetland areas are re-emerging. A wetland that was virtually dead is
now fed by three streams a local resident says are running for the first time in 50 years,
says Gerald Wright who heads the programme. In the first year of control, 22
indigenous plant species were recorded and this has reached 35. Two species of Lachenalia
have been discovered for the first time in the area.
liliflora was deemed extinct and the other lily has yet to be identified.
programme has made Vergelegen a leader in the Biodiversity & Wine Initiative that
encourages wineries to play a major role in the conservation of the Cape Floral Kingdom.
for cape town established
Cape Towns Central City Development Strategy (CCDS) has submitted its progress
report to the City of Cape Towns mayoral committee. The CCDS is a joint process
between the municipality and the Cape Town Partnership to establish a shared vision for
the future of the central city, as well as a preferred development path and implementation
Andrew Boraine, chief executive of the Cape Town Partnership, the aim of the report is to
assist the citys planning department and other statutory authorities in their
efforts to implement meaningful and relevant development parameters in order to make
decisions and approvals.
includes detailed descriptions of each of the 20 sub-precincts comprising the central
city, which stretches from Green Point to Salt River
A park appears
Johannesburg City Parks has unveiled its Diepkloof XtremePark Makeover. This park was
revamped in 24 hours by contractors and members of the community.
Naidoo, member of the mayoral committee for the environment in the City of Johannesburg,
tells Urban Green File this park is part of an annual initiative by City Parks to
fast-track and address outdoor recreation disparities. He believes it will mobilise
community ownership of green spaces and restore the integrity of the citys open
spaces. The park was designed by Insite Landscape Architects and the installation was
handled by Top Turf Group. It comprises 2 ha and includes a splash pool, soccer field,
multi-purpose court, playgrounds, park furniture, water fountain, a memorial and a natural
amphitheatre area with a big screen.
Constantia Estate has completed a restoration project to curtail erosion of the river bank
on which the historic Cloete wine cellar stands. Gabions will now redirect floodwater and
halt the erosion that would have eventually threatened the cellar built in 1791.
construction of the gabion structure was an expensive exercise, it will not only last for
a very long time but, in itself, will be of heritage importance to future
generations, says Jean Naude, CEO of the Groot Constantia Trust.
structure will also benefit the ecology of the sensitive river system, which is located
gate house completed
With reference to the article in the October 2007 edition of Urban Green File featuring
the Nieuwoudtville Caravan Park, we noted that you stated the chalets were not built
due to budget constraints.
This is only
partially correct as, in March 2007, the gate house, which formed part of the overall
design, was completed.
In the case
of the gate house, the main walls comprise nonload-bearing earth and lime-plastered straw
bale providing superb insulation. They are protected by being raised on a plinth of
locally sourced sandstone. Rubble trench foundations are used with rubble sourced from a
nearby dump. This helps reduce the use of concrete by about 75% while promoting additional
work on site. The radiating roof structure and latte screen uses non-toxic,
boron-treated poles with a natural oil finish. The roof is planted with local succulents
to assist with insulation and to help maintain the earths biodiversity. The walls
are finished with non-toxic, breathable paints.
2005, the project was awarded the silver medal in the Holcim Awards for Sustainable
Construction for Africa and the Middle East and, in 2006, was one of the 15 finalists
competing for the Global Holcim Awards for Sustainable Construction held in Bangkok in
April 2006. - Andy Horn, Eco Design Architects
I read with interest the article on new markets planned in Johannesburg (Urban Green File
e-mail bulletin of April 29 2008), which referred to weather- and vandal-resistant
materials. I would like to add with minimum maintenance.
To this end,
we at the Hot Dip Galvanizers Association, would be glad to discuss hot-dip galvanizing
and/or duplex coatings with specifiers for the selection of a cost-effective coating
system. - Terry Smith
Green benchmark set
massive paradigm shift has taken place. When it comes to the design and construction of
buildings in South Africa, the future is green. Nedbanks new Sandton development
could set a benchmark for green building development of the future.
Just off the
ground in the Sandton CBD is the second phase of Nedbank Corporates head office. The
Phase 1 design, completed in 2001, was already a very energy-efficient building for its
time. With the clients commitment to sustainable principles and best practice, Phase
2 is intended to become a benchmark green project for the South African construction
In line with
current thinking around maximizing opportunities and creating vibrant urban precincts
adjacent to the Gautrain transport nodes, this development will include retail, commercial
and residential uses. The offices will be the main component, and the residential and
retail elements will give the building a 24-hour cycle.
are scheduled for completion during the last quarter of 2009 and the apartments are due to
be finished about 15 months later.
is being constructed above an existing basement that formed part of Phase 1. Two levels of
retail will run along Maude Street with additional parking and the buildings plant
rooms. Six levels of offices will separate the retail and upmarket residential units with
the buildings maximum height set at 29 floors.
We are in a high transport node, which is a good thing in itself, Xavier
Huyberechts of GLH & Associates Architects tells Urban Green File. By building
near a transport node and densifying the existing urban fabric, a lot of energy could be
saved through commuters using public transport rather than individual vehicles.
building is five minutes walk from the Sandton Gautrain Station and there is a bus
rapid transit stop right in front of the building. The retail component in front of the
parking area opens up onto Maude Street, which gives life to the street edge, and improves
the quality of the city and the interface of the project with the city. This will include
shops, showrooms, restaurants and coffee shops. A covered walkway in front of the retail
area will offer protection to pedestrians and create a more human scale.
of Nedbank Corporate Property Finance says: An elaborate staircase has been designed
for pedestrian access off the street at the main entrance and we are investigating a
bridge walkway link from our building to the Village Walk shopping centre.
Natural light exploited
Huyberechts says the design concept for Phase 2 takes its lead, aesthetically, from the
Phase 1 development. We are keeping the same language but we are being very
innovative in terms of the multi-functional configuration.
of Phase 2 were designed at the same time as Phase 1, and the two utilise the same
philosophies. The design was then changed and adapted in line with newly-available systems
and technologies, and within the constraints of the structure of the existing basement on
says: The new phase, like Phase 1, is organised around an atrium, which allows us to
have a compact layout without the space being too deep.
building has a small footprint with very little external façade. The atrium brings a lot
of natural light into the building.
is very important as it provides a place where people mix and mingle. Pause areas are also
provided in the office spaces for people to relax and meet one another.
building is completely northfacing with the east and west façades the smallest so that
most of the office space is north- or south-facing. From the start with Phase 1, we
wanted a crescendo of buildings so that the smallest building on the north climbs up to a
very tall building on the south boundary of the site. This allows us to exploit the use of
natural light. Both phases have double glazing and thermal breaks in the glazing so the
envelope is very well thought-out.
orientation of the building and decision to use smaller windows are all part of the
Green lungs provided
The complex has been organised around two large gardens each about the size of a
soccer field providing green lungs between the buildings. This is a relaxing,
natural environment onto which the staff restaurants open. There is general
knowledge now that you need to improve the amenities in a building in order to give
employees the sense of being part of a team and to improve productivity, Huyberechts
says. This sense of belonging in a corporate environment must be done through the
design. So, for example, the finishes in the staff restaurant are upmarket, to make people
proud of where they work. Nedbank has invested a lot in amenities for staff. There is also
a crèche, which is very popular and growing all the time, as well as a travel agent,
hairdresser, library and convenience shop. And the location of the building in Sandton,
opposite Village Walk, is convenient and adds to the capacity of having amenities close
by. It capitalises on city living. I believe it adds a lot to the corporate life of
Nedbank as a whole, and to the employees as individuals.
Eric Noir of Green by Design Architects says: When designing an
energy-efficient building, the first thing you do is embrace passive design and then you
look at the systems. This building will have a full economy cycle so, when the air outside
is the right temperature, fresh air can be pushed right through. This is more efficient
than chilling air all the time and has a much higher air quality.
air-conditioning cannot be avoided in the apartments, Huyberechts says residential units
lend themselves more to passive heating, cooling and ventilation than offices, which
require more costly systems. In the residential component, large terraces have been
designed to protect the openings from sunlight.
will have individual air-conditioners to allow users freedom in determining the ambient
temperature of their environments.
power-supply problems, gas geysers are also being considered for the apartments
these also have a smaller carbon footprint than coalfired electricity.
In terms of
back-up power, the bank cannot afford to lose power as this affects productivity too
drastically so a full back-up diesel generator system is being installed. During load
shedding and power outages, the generators will only power air-conditioning in critical
areas, such as the data and computer rooms.
that, from an operation point of view, the bank is looking at giving its staff laptops.
These use a lot less energy, generate a lot less heat for the air-conditioning system to
cope with, and can endure two or three hours of load shedding.
In terms of
energy-efficient lighting, the intelligent Digital Addressable Lighting Interface system
will be implemented.
this system gives users access to their own lighting by plugging into the corporate
network and allowing them to switch on, dim or increase lighting levels to their own
real benefit is that it gives individuals control over their environments and this is
unusual in a corporate workplace.
major benefit is that it allows lights to dim when natural light comes in from outside so
the output lux levels remain the same while the lights are dimmer. It also generates a lot
less heat so it saves on air-conditioning.
adds: With control over every single light, the system allows us to test and push
that boundary as low as we can. Lighting accounts for about 50% of a buildings
energy consumption so any saving is significant. Obviously we need to balance this with
other legal requirements and lighting needs to be homogenous in patches it is very
the overall ambient lighting that we are trying to drop and this works well in a
In Phase 2,
clear low-E glass has been specified and this is an improvement on Phase 1 as it allows
for temperature control while it also affords the building a better quality of light.
Rejected heat re-use
chosen above solar panels
Noir says the team looked at solar panels but found there was not enough space on the roof
or space for storage to make this viable. But we have a lot of waste heat that were
rejecting from the air-conditioning plant so its a lot more economical to take the
heat through a heat exchange and use it for water heating. Solar is the buzzword at the
moment but its not necessarily the most cost-efficient, elegant or
Greywater to flush
In terms of water consumption, the idea is to use no municipal, potable-quality
water for toilet flushing or irrigation if we can, adds Noir. We are looking
at using the greywater from the apartments above to flush the toilets in the office
component below. The beauty of this system is that greywater shouldnt be kept for
more than 24 hours any way. This means you need to find a use that closely matches the
source. In this case, only a small holding tank is required at the intermediate level.
Green roofs considered
In Phase 1, a very European-style garden was created. This style will be implemented again
in Phase 2 with a big change in directive in that only indigenous vegetation will be used.
The possibility of planted roofs is also being explored. The residential component has a
smaller footprint than the offices and allows for an intensive, manicured roof garden on
the first level of apartments. Planting on the terraces is also being considered. Noir
green roofs, we are exploring a top-down approach to stormwater management where we
capture it as high as we can and slow it down before releasing it into the municipal
of WSP Structures Africa adds: The municipality doesnt require us to attenuate
water for this development because the parameters were determined when Phase 1 was built.
So we will actually be ahead of municipal requirements.
We have an existing frame that we tried to comply with as much as
possible but, over time, there were new ideas we tried to incorporate, Truter tells
Urban Green File. We have strengthened the existing basement with a special piling
arrangement and strengthening of the columns to accommodate whats happening above.
We did wind-tunnel testing to make sure the building will function optimally
structurally and for the occupants. In terms of recycling, we have an undertaking from the
contractor that as much of the site waste will be recycled as possible during the
construction process. Ironically, site waste tends to have a very good engineering
also requires very little effort so, by reorganising slightly and having a different
focus, quite a lot can be achieved.
We will be
using fly ash, which is being done in the market, but were exploring ways to enhance
this. Were also looking at ways of reusing steel. And we will be using high-density
polyethylene pipes, which are much more environment-friendly than uPVC pipes. The
electrical engineer is investigating the same alternatives with a view to the electrical
also trying to de-mass, or dematerialize the building, by using as little concrete and
steel as possible. Fortunately, this is a situation where we need to use high strength
concrete for the columns so they can be smaller. This helps the process. We are also
examining post-tensioning in the design to help with dematerialisation.
says the contractor, Group Five, has also identified greening as a priority.
whole change of mindset needs to come from the contractor in terms of the sorting and
re-use of waste materials, and schooling of labourers.
once the tender stage was completed, the contractor was brought on board as a
fully-fledged consultant within the professional team. They are able to offer
knowledge and advice on types and quantities of materials that impact on the design from a
buildability point of view before materials are even bought. The site is unbelievably
tight and is situated in a builtup, high-traffic area. We are looking at the equivalent of
UK best-practice standards, which require the contractor to be mannered in terms of
deliveries and not to interfere with peak-hour traffic. And, working at night without
disturbing neighbours, such as hotels, requires control of dust, noise and light
pollution. All this becomes part of the challenge for the contractor and impacts on his
and the clients reputation.
says, in terms of finishes, the style of the building was established from Phase 1 so some
items have not been changed, like the stone façades. Higher up the façades, the
architects are looking at an insulating plaster made of 95% natural fibres although this
has yet to be confirmed.
is one area that can still be improved in terms of green ratings the choice of
materials but as we are not building yet, we hope to revise some of these items as
we go along.
Reynolds says frustration when making responsible life-cycle decisions seems to be at the
point of the supplier. The steel in this country comes from one source, and you have
to take what youre given, so you have no choice. Similarly our power comes from a
coal-fired source of energy. But Huyberechts says pressure is sure to come from this
and other similar projects for entrepreneurs to offer alternatives in terms of
manufacturing, supply and service delivery.
New generation of
Green design is a very new thing for the building industry as a whole in South
Africa, says Huyberechts. In this project, Nedbank is embracing this new
The bank has
indicated that green needs to become a priority and this wasnt easy to do because
this building was designed before the green wave. Fortunately a lot of the right basic
principles were there, such as orientation. These were bettered with Green by Design and
the other consultants to, hopefully, make a building that will spearhead the movement in
comments: Weve really seen 2007 as a watershed year from a sustainability
point of view. With a few exceptions, all the buildings weve been involved with have
started in a conventional way but needed to be delivered in a sustainable way. Really,
from now on, we are seeing a new generation of buildings being built with sustainable
imperatives informing the design from the start. This watershed was really sealed and
rubber-stamped by the power-supply crisis in early 2008. We, generally, try to improve
energy and water consumption in a building because those are the things that have payback
periods attached to them.
the way buildings are procured at the moment, within the realm of the property portfolio,
leaves only so much scope for justifying increased capital expenditure in order to recoup
some of that money through running costs. The benefits in terms of the productivity or
image of the bank cant really be quantified in terms of building design. So its
been fantastic to see Nedbank really embracing these ideas at a corporate level. It makes
it possible to look at many other issues, such as indoor air quality, choice of materials
and all issues that normally do not have a payback period and are, therefore, considered
throwaway costs. This makes it possible to use a rating or accreditation system for the
building. So its a huge milestone; a radically different way of thinking. The
Green Star Rating Tool is being developed by the Green Building Council of South Africa
and will be released as a pilot tool in July 2008. It is being adapted and customised for
South Africa from the Australian system. Nedbank is looking at becoming involved in
developing the tool for national use using this Phase 2 development as a pilot project.
Green is here to stay!
For those who have been fighting the green battle tirelessly, and often without
reward or acknowledgement, victory seems imminent. When companies of the magnitude of
Nedbank and Group Five take up the banner, for whatever reason, it is clear green, in the
construction industry, is here to stay!
GREEN BUILDINGS BRIEFS
At-source sorting of building rubble required
The City of
Johannesburg has recommended that Pikitup investigates the viability of developing a
builders rubble plant for the city. Apparently Pikitup has submitted a feasibility
study to the city manager and is now waiting for the capital needed for the project to be
approved and to commence development of a site. Some 25% of Gauteng landfills are filled
with builders rubble, according to Pikitup.
recycling of building rubble seems dependent on at-source sorting.
value of potentially-recyclable materials decreases when it is dumped as a conglomerate,
claims Frans Dekker, landfill management chief for the City of Tshwane.
is why the separation of building rubble at source is the answer to increased efficiency
and material worth. Much separation and recycling occurs on landfill sites.
is not a financially- or environmentally-feasible approach as the material has to be
cleaned (water wastage) and re-transported (financial and environmental cost).
Dekker would like to encourage large material/product distributors to provide a service
whereby products/materials are retrieved from building sites for re-use or recycling (less
regard, Carla Botha of WBHO says improved planning to include on-site waste management
will, more often than not, result in increased capital cost but, in the long run, save
money for the construction company and the client while, certainly, increasing the
environmental responsiveness/greenness of both parties and this has untold marketing, as
well as other business, possibilities.
Read the June 2008 edition of Urban Green
Files sister magazine, Building Africa, for an in-depth investigation of the
disposal and re-use of building rubble.
manufacturer opts for solar panels
By the end of 2008, Toyota will have installed 270 solar panels at its Durban plant. This,
Toyota claims, will enable it to operate at full capacity while also reducing demand on
Eskom. According to Business Report, Toyotas renewable energy project began in 2006
with the installation of 44 2,5 m² panels. The second phase was completed in June 2007
when 150 panels were installed. In the third phase of this project, Toyota will install
another 120 panels. While the project has cost Toyota R3,5-million, the company expects to
save R95 000/month on energy costs when the project has been completed.
only is this a significant financial saving, it also shows Toyota is supportive of Eskoms
energy-saving initiative, comments Ferdi de Vos, Toyota spokesperson. Through this
initiative, the carbon dioxide released into the atmosphere will be reduced by
approximately 1 350 t/annum.
prioritises green building
According to the Cape Town Partnership, the city will, in future, take into account
energy-efficient, and green design and building practices of proposed developments, and
will look favourably on developers who can show they have reduced electricity demand in
existing buildings through energy-efficiency retrofitting programmes.
Town Partnership strongly encourages greening of all existing and new buildings, and has
informed Urban Green File that, together with PJ Carew & Associates, it is conducting
research for a benchmarking exercise across many buildings in the central city area.
Results will be communicated shortly, according to Sarah De Villiers Leach of the Energy
louvre system facilitates energy efficiency
House in Parkwood, Johannesburg, has been designed by Enrico Daffonchio of Daffonchio
& Associates Architects. The building serves as the head office of McNabs and
boasts a custom-made, sun-protecting louver system to control the indoor climate. So
effective is this sunscreen system that the building does not need any energy- intensive
departure from the normal notion of facing a building north, the façades of the Green
House face mostly east and west in order to exploit the natural heat of the sun for indoor
heating. The building also boasts an underfloor heating system making use of solar panels
on the roof.
Daffonchio, the green building design approach focused on three aspects: energy
consumption, water consumption and choice of materials. The correct combination of
these three elements enables an architect to reduce the carbon footprint of a building,
he tells Urban Green File.
McKerron, CEO of McNabs tells Urban Green File, although the building is visually
appealing and innovative, the basic structure is actually quite simple and inexpensive.
have saved money on the structure and this allowed us to spend on technology, such as the
sunscreen louvre system.
An in-depth feature article on this building
will be published in the August 2008 edition of Urban Green File.
building material offers a green option
green buildings should not only be concerned about energy and water efficiency. The choice
of appropriate building materials and products is as important.
regard, architects should take note of the increasing trend to recycle building rubble.
The rubble can be successfully specified as aggregate for building projects and help save
significant amounts of space on landfills.
regard, Urban Green File can disclose the Cape Town recycling sector continues to boom.
Hiretech Construction Equipment is one Cape Town-based company that has joined the
concerns have been expressed that recycled material is still not being specified by
consulting engineers and not allowed on many local councils sites.
Johnston of Hiretech says, though, the quality problem can be overcome with regular
samples sent to laboratories.
employs five casual workers at a time to pull plastic out of the stockpile before sending
it through the machines.
for recycled building materials is creating a boom for manufacturers of mobile crushers as
these can easily be moved from site to site to crush rubble.
taken delivery of a Finlay 664 tracked screening plant from Pilot Crushtec.
Johannesburg, Patcrush is running a successful construction rubble-recycling business.
This company simply crushes material and supplies it to the building industry for use in
filling applications. Crushing is mostly done on the same site where the material is
operators deal in recycled crushed materials. Ive dealt with a couple of guys
who recycle rubble by placing bins on building sites, Steve Jones of Patcrush tells
Urban Green File. The customer pays for the service of having the material removed
while a waste company, such as Stones & Stones in Crown Mines, resells it back into
Schools opt for
Schüco International KG has implemented a solar energy system on the roof of the German
International School in Johannesburg. The installation has been done in conjunction with
South African company Solarzone.
initiative forms part of the Solar Roofs on German Schools and Institutions Abroad
programme spearheaded by the German Energy Agency and the German Federal Ministry of
Economics & Technology.
solar thermal collectors supply energy for hot water to the kitchen and school showers for
up to 1 200 users per day. The photovoltaic installation serves as a battery assisted,
stand-alone system with parallel grid connection. In this way, the operation of important
consumers, such as the telephone lines, computer systems and emergency lighting is assured
of electricity during power cuts.
claims this system will save 22 300 kWh of electricity per year and reduce CO2 emissions
by around 18 000 kg/year.
Pretoria Boys High School has informed Urban Green File it is fitting its Rissik and
School houses (boarding residences) with Suntank solar water-heating systems.
implements sustainability principlesThe
Kindlewood residential estate in Mount Edgecombe has, reportedly, been designed with
sustainability in mind. The design is in line with the principles advocated by the Green
Building Council of South Africa (GBCSA), according to development director David
In terms of
energy efficiency, innovations include the use of photovoltaic panels to supply power to
the boardroom lights; solar panels for heating water, along with energy-saving appliances;
the use of a VVR airconditioning system that is secondary to the building system for
ventilation and uses less power than a conventional system; and the use of energy-saving
fittings that reduce dependency on artificial lighting.
water-saving measures include the use of indigenous plants for low water absorption and
the use of underground rainwater harvesting, which collects and filters greywater and then
re-uses it for irrigation.
Entries for Eskoms 2008 Energy Efficient Lighting Design Competition will close on
August 1 2008. Architects, interior designers, engineers, electrical contractors,
consultants, lighting specialists and people with a passion for design and/or efficient
lighting have been invited to stand a chance to win prizes totalling R250 000.
patchwork of aesthetic improvements has made a difference to the appearance of
Johannesburgs inner city. But is the citys development and management
environmentally-sound and sustainable?
establishment in the late 19th century, Johannesburg has seen times of greatness and
success. More recently, though, it has experienced a time of degradation and gradual
management and private organizations are actively applying plans to rejuvenate the inner
city. The question is whether or not environmental sustainability, which will pull the
city through future hardships, is being achieved?
is still attracting numerous people who are searching for better opportunities.
therefore, maintains its role as the economic hub of sub-Saharan Africa. This is according
to Nathi Mthethwa, City of Johannesburg regional director of Region F (Inner City). He
tells Urban Green File the continued influx of people from rural regions and other African
countries impacts the city environment greatly and emphasises that the primary objective
of the city is to protect the value of the inner city for continued successful utilisation
by future generations. The aim is to create a world-class African city.
Mokgohloa, executive director of the department of environmental management, City of
Johannesburg, agrees much focus has to be placed on the inner-city environment as the
heartbeat of Johannesburg.
city philosophy, in turn, seems to be on the right track according to the Brundtland
Commissions definition of sustainable development as development that meets
the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet
their own needs. But does what is happening on the ground truly reflect the
philosophy of sustainability?
Managed in quadrants
The inner city has been divided into four quadrants to assist the management
process by ensuring that, while a specific spot is being concentrated upon, decayelsewhere
is prevented. The previous management system resulted in issues of dislocation
whereby the inner-city problems were merely transferred to other areas, Mthethwa
tells Urban Green File. While the new system allows for complete eradication of
decay. This can be achieved as each quadrant manager is tasked with indicating the
priority streets and hot spots to be targeted within a holistic approach. Yet the system
is not perfect as it was only initiated in the last quarter of 2007, and is challenged by
a lack of capacity and budget. A team of 160 personnel has to focus on all quadrants while
this number is only suitable for one.
Mthethwa lists the quadrants as:
Greater Ellis Park
(development focused on 2010).
Core CBD (from
Marshalltown to Joubert Park with much focus on transportation, pedestrian traffic, retail
and business functions).
(Braamfontein, Newtown and Fordsburg areas that have been rejuvenated and cannot be
allowed to revert to degradation).
The heartland (in
terms of urban decay, consisting of Hillbrow, Berea and Yeoville).
A patchwork of
specific areas have been improved and cleaned up, largely by the private sector in
conjunction with small public financing assistance to enhance the value of the inner-city
environment, Neil Fraser of Urban Inc tells Urban Green File that, in general, the inner
city is still in a poor state. With the exception of bits and pieces of focal areas,
the rest is pretty tatty.
include Newtown, Main Street, Ghandi Square and Braamfontein, with improvements to Jewel
City, the legal precinct, and the interior and exterior upgrading of the old fort. He
suggests there has been a significant focus on the aesthetics of these areas but,
seemingly, minimal attention has been paid to sustainability.
inner city initiatives up to now have been quite patchy with no real programmed planning
and characterised by superficial cleaning-up exercises.
feels that the efforts the city has been putting into the inner-city, especially since the
Inner City Charter has been instituted, are a great advance on the previous situation.
major drivers of future transformation
Fraser, towards 2015, Johannesburg will be faced with three major areas of transformation
that will impact greatly positively or negatively on the city environment.
These include the change of function from purely commerce to primarily residential, the
introduction of public-transportation schemes Gautrain and bus rapid transit (BRT)
and densification, specifically around transport nodes.
transformations require planning and preparation now to ensure future sustainable
implementation and functionality.
A city does not exist
Comment by Gerald Garner
It is clear that many initiatives have been undertaken to rejuvenate Johannesburgs
city centre. Although the merits of some of these can be debated, it is probably true to
argue that any attempt at improvement deserves support.
It is clear
from this article, though, that although even more emphasis should be placed on aesthetic
design, consideration must be given as to whether such design contributes to a sustainable
urban form. Perhaps the aesthetic focus exists because most urban regeneration is being
handled by architects and landscape architects who have been trained to think visually.
However, for the rejuvenation endeavours to be sustainable, life-cycle maintenance,
ecological performance, waste management and general environmental quality should be
File is concerned about the South African tendency to think in isolation. Is this a legacy
of apartheid planning and city management? While it makes sense to delegate
urban-management responsibilities to different regions, it is imperative that planning and
design consider the entire city. Johannesburgs inner city is too often treated as a
region surrounded by highways that exist in isolation and it competes for investment with
areas like Sandton. The irony is that the inner city and Sandton fall within the
boundaries of Johannesburg. In terms of planning, they should not compete. Whatever is
most appropriate for each region within the context of the bigger city should be allowed
For me it is
always surprising to hear statements that Johannesburg is a densely developed city, for
instance. It is not. In fact, low-density sprawl is probably the biggest threat to
environmental quality. While the city centre may be dense, surrounding areas are not and
it is this imbalance that causes many of Johannesburgs problems. It is true the city
centre needs green spaces and a proper urban park without doubt. But the issue can
also, partially, be addressed by promoting denser developments in proximity to the citys
many large parks like the botanical gardens in Emmarentia, Delta Park, Zoo Lake and Rhodes
routes and urban rivers should be planned holistically; linking the inner city with the
wider urban environment. And Urban Green File maintains Johannesburgs river courses
present the biggest untapped opportunity. Why are proper cycling paths not developed next
to streams, such as the Braamfontein Spruit? This could provide a transport corridor all
the way from Sunninghill to Parktown and the city. As the route follows the stream, the
incline is not steep and it is ideal for cycling. All that is required is a hard surface
for cycling and safety provided by metro police, CCTV cameras and decent lighting.
First impressions last
Mthethwa emphasises that waste management is of significant importance in
enhancing aesthetics while solving much of the citys pollution, specifically
of the quality of buildings and open spaces, dirty streets and publicuse areas ruin the
impression of visitors and users of the city. He tells Urban Green File that various
mechanisms have been initiated along with Pikitup to minimize waste.
level being 24/7 cleaning services divided into three shifts providing frequent, even
continuous, collection by cleaners designated to one street each.
methodology is quite costly but is aimed at providing targeted action to bring back
investor faith in the city and increase pedestrian use.
level is gradually being introduced alongside the 24/7 programme with the ultimate goal of
minimising the need for cleaners. Reduction through recycling, which will minimise waste
carted to landfill sites, is being supported by intensive public-education programmes.
emphasises it is vital to get community buy-in as littering is a behavioural issue that
needs to be amended.
overjoyed the attitudes of a number of people have been changed. A research project in
conjunction with Kaya FM revealed that cleanliness was one of the communitys top
requirements for the inner city. Region F has undertaken a project,
my inner city, lets keep it clean, with eight of the applicable City of
Johannesburg by-laws simplified and marketed to the community via three-language brochures
(English, French and Zulu), outdoor adverts, youth theatre productions and further
education of community leaders.
user-friendly brochures are handed out and explained street-by-street and door-to-door
with the aim of in-your-face education, says Mthethwa. Furthermore he advocates that
law enforcement without civic education is useless as most people in Johannesburg are not
accustomed to by-laws.
According to Pansy Jali of Pikitup, various programmes have been put in place
to enhance waste management in the inner city:
Public or open spaces
have become illegal dumping hot spots. Pikitup has special programmes in place to keep
trouble areas clean. These do not only Minvolve the cleaning of illegal dumping spots but
also community education and awareness campaigns. In this way, the cleanliness of the
targeted areas can be sustained.
Pikitup has joined
forces with Mondis Curbside Recycling Project with Ronnie Bags. Jali says, through
this project, residents are encouraged to make use of Ronnie Bags to dispose of their
paper waste. The paper is then collected on predetermined dates for recycling.
A pilot project
undertaken by Pikitup in October 2007 entailed the introduction of 17 underground bins in
the inner city (see article on page 34 for information on similar systems). Jali confirms
a vast improvement has been noted in these areas and Pikitup is in the process of
installing 10 more underground bins in the inner city (to be completed by the end of June
In addition, Pikitup
has installed more than 2 000 swivel bins in the inner city thus far.
comments on the swivel-bin placements by Pikitup, advocating that, in some areas, they are
placed too far apart. He says an American study concluded that people do not bother to use
waste receptacles if they are further than 10 m away while, in South Africa, this distance
is even less. Detailed studies have to be conducted to clearly understand the needs of the
community regarding waste. According to Fraser, Washington performed a six-month analysis
whereby a large spectrum of people from different walks of life, genders, ages and
situations (pregnant and disabled, among others) were questioned about what makes them
throw garbage away and what their prerequisites for distance and type of receptacle are.
perspective was changed from that of the refuse collectors comfort and union wishes
to that of the refuse creators requirements, says Fraser.
he advises that the Johannesburg inner city should be more proactive about collection and
recycling of waste by implementing a food coupon or similar system to involve community
members while, simultaneously, solving other social issues.
A city improved?
Have the many
initiatives to improve the cityscape succeeded? Urban Green File walked the streets once
paved with gold.
Mthethwa believes the BRT system will change peoples lives by alleviating congestion
and reducing transport costs while offering great opportunities for the city, such as the
creation of new economic nodes around stations. According to Sammy Mafu of the
Johannesburg Development Agency (JDA), the BRT will greatly help the citys
urban-development policy, which focuses on the creation of compact cities and limit urban
sprawl in order to use urban infrastructure and land more efficiently and effectively. In
essence, the BRT is simply the idea of creating a rail-like performance using road-based
technologies that are affordable to most cities. Mafu lists some of the principle
Existence of an
integrated network of routes and corridors.
busways rather than kerb-side bus lanes.
Closed median stations
with pre-board fare collection and fare verification.
Larger vehicles to
better match supply and demand.
identity for the system.
Urban Green File that the roll-out of the various BRT road sections is at different stages
of progress. The first BRT contract in Ellis Park (Charlton Terrace) has been completed
while construction is in progress on Bertrams Road, Saratoga Avenue, Edith Cavell Street
and the Joubert Park busway. According to the JDA, construction was expected to commence
in mid-March 2008 on the section from the intersection of Main Reef Road and Commando Road
up to the intersection of Empire Road/Jan Smuts Avenue. A prototype station will be
erected by the end of July 2008 most likely on the Joubert Park busway.
BRT not all good for Joburg
Fraser admits this transport system does have potential to create opportunities along with
massive positive impacts. However he is concerned the South American BRT model is being
placed within the South African urban context without necessary planning and without
response to the urban form and requirements. He suggests there are few places in the city
that can cater for dedicated lanes while the South American models bicycle lanes do
not even fall within the South African application.
he believes, the Rea Vaya BRT will use the city grid to its best advantage and not to the
citys best advantage, such as the transformation of Rissik Street, which will lose
its ceremonial value. Katherine Cox, also of Urban Inc, is not convinced a thorough impact
assessment of the BRT system was completed to analyse the impact of increased pedestrian
and informal trading activity while taking space and connectivity into account. I am
concerned the Johannesburg BRT is not all good and it may just add to the confusion,
space should be increased
adamant the areas of open space should be increased along with the growing city population
and master planning has to be improved to adequately incorporate open space, especially
green space. Mthethwa agrees. A balance has to be achieved as we cannot only look at
infrastructure; open spaces have to be included to make the environment more pleasant for
residents. But he raises concern about space. Johannesburg already has such a
high density, increased densification will lead to negative impacts on the environment.
A clear balance needs to be created whereby ground space is opened up to create parks and
walking trails, and densities are increased using air space.
Urban Green File that international norms indicate 5% to 10% of the urban environment will
be open space (hard and soft space, excluding roads and sidewalks) for breathing
comparison with some cities internationally, such as Portland and Vancouver, where you
trip over all the open spaces, Johannesburg is far behind with estimates of only 0,9% of
open space. According to Cox, the city needs to start looking at massive greening
projects, such as the Soweto Tree Planting initiative, undertake intensive runoff studies
to find solutions to flash flooding, as well as investigate the extension of
urban-agriculture initiatives to increase sustainability.
responds with the citys 200 000 tree target by 2010 a portion of these trees
will be planted within the inner city. Some 40 000 trees have already been planted
throughout Johannesburg, she says. For every parking bay across Johannesburg,
three trees will be planted.
Mokgohloa mentions, wherever the City of Johannesburg has the opportunity to develop parks
and finds the space, it does. With this in mind, Cox argues against the use of space left
over after planning to develop inner-city parks as this may result in poor layouts and
positioning within the urban context.
Integration is key to
According to Mthethwa, integration is the key to city success. A
multidisciplinary Inner City Task Team has been established whereby all departments work
together to reach a level of programme integration. These task teams cater for the various
pillars of regeneration, such as services, housing, safety and security, economic
development and environment, with each pillar interrelated and conscious of the other.
are the days when paving that had just been upgraded is chopped up by another municipal
entity for service upgrading. The integrated task team aims to have better impact on
the ground whereby space with a diversity of problems is approached and all the problems
are solved in cohesion and at the same time.
Cleaner air in sight?
Mokgohloa informs Urban Green File the council has undertaken a study and
monitoring programme of the inner city as a hot spot of air pollution.
all boilers were made as a majority still run on coal and are operated poorly (merely by
security guards) and maintained. During the next financial year, businesses will be
requested to improve boiler technology to improve operation so that it is less harmful to
hopeful public-transport initiatives, such as the BRT, and the Joburg-Tshwane Metro
Rail express will further lessen air pollution.
Moodley of Johannesburg City Parks provided Urban Green File with information on the
upgrading of five innercity parks: Pieter Roos, LeRoith, Alec Gorshel, JZ de Villiers and
the JDA has been involved in a number of projects to improve public spaces by using public
art (the Braamfontein eland and Jewel City paving mosaics, for example) and upgrading, via
improved paving, street lighting and the provision of street trees and street furniture
(Newtown, Jewel City, Fashion District, Greater Ellis Park and Braamfontein).
says the city needs to move away from depending on a constant energy supply and mentions
the Department of Development Planning and Urban Management is applying more pressure on
developers to provide energy-efficient systems and proposals in new buildings.
he hopes a new public-education programme, to be initiated in July 2008 in collaboration
with City Power, will include energy efficiency as a hot topic. Mokgohloa says
energy-efficiency plans are being implemented within 15 municipal buildings across the
city. She hopes these buildings will be the catalyst and role models for the private
sector to do the same. Fraser suggests numerous initiatives are being undertaken by the
private sector to increase energy efficiency of new building developments, including the
visitors centre at the Metropolitan Centre, which the architect, Nicholas Sack,
claims caters for a number of environmental issues, the Zurich Re building in
Ferreirasdorp, and the new Absa Tower West, which will be the energy centre of the Absa
A city challenge
According to Mokgohloa, a major inner-city challenge is the 100- year-old
infrastructure that cannot cope with demand and circumstances.
The Klip and
Jukskei rivers both originating in the city centre are canalised in the city
region and suffer from large amounts of pollution due to the citys stormwater
lines lie above stormwater lines and leakages result in sewage flowing into these rivers
with serious impact downstream. Stormwater becomes the carrier of waste due to high sewage
and litter loads while it causes erosion damage downstream due to high flow rates. Environmentally,
this is a huge challenge to overcome, states Mokgohloa. Plans that have been
initiated and will be implemented within the upper regions of both rivers include:
Litter traps upstream
approximately 1 km from Bruma Lake. These traps are closed every evening and cleaned. A
costly but necessary exercise.
The application of
grids on all stormwater drains to collect litter before it enters the stormwater system.
services the inner city is much cleaner than it was two to three years ago.
Are we achieving a
world class African city?
Mafu acknowledges the city is achieving sustainability through improved
multiple precincts, increased private-sector investments, low vacancies of corporate
rental space, low vacancies of residential accommodation and office space, along with
greater business turnover and business confidence. Additionally, he recognises that urban
development-zone tax incentives help improve the public environment by promoting
private-sector investment. Improved retail and residential space makes a positive
contribution in terms of investment in the inner city and it is the citys role to
ensure there is an ongoing commitment to investment in the public environment.
Urban Inc is
concerned many city projects are knee-jerk reactions to crises, andsolutions are not
thoroughly integrated into the existing urban context.
Fraser, this issue is aggravated by yearly council budgets that force government
departments to utilise financing in certain time periods. This results in rushed designs
missing the finer details that provide actual sustainability. Furthermore, Fraser says he
was struck by the high level of awareness of sustainability in the US and that greening is
top of the agenda there. International developers are forced to comply with minimum green
requirements while cities like Vancouver charge a green fee (16 Canadian dollars per
square foot) for the development of parks and affordable housing.
The only way
South Africa can truly achieve sustainability is by making it mandatory and by forcing
developers to work within fine margins. Mthethwa advocates the process is incremental and,
by comparing Johannesburg now to Johannesburg five years ago, there has been a major
improvement, and the city is progressively getting there. The Inner City
Regeneration Charter sets stringent commitments and time lines within a five-year plan,
he declares. This prevents the previous pitfalls of rhetorical statements and
ENVIRONMENTAL PLANNING & DESIGN
Design for 2010 and beyond
a catalyst for overdue urban rejuvenation, the design of the greater Ellis Park Precinct
shows promise. But will it succeed in leaving a legacy or is the focus on short-term
the 2010 Fifa World Cup, the City of Johannesburg is upgrading its greater Ellis Park
Precinct an area that was in dire need of rejuvenation. Could this initiative be an
example of the positive spin-off South African cities will enjoy for many years after the
last goal has been scored?
regeneration of the area, in order to increase revenue for the City of Johannesburg
Metropolitan Council, is the long-term aim of the Johannesburg Development Agencys
(JDAs) Ellis Park Precinct initiative. This is according to Agmat Badat, senior
development manager for the JDA.
include infrastructure upgrading with a view to the 2010 Fifa World Cup and to potentially
reverse the economic, social and physical decline characteristic of the area for many
It is the JDAs vision to promote the area as a preferred destination, not only
for sport but for entertainment, education, industry, commerce and residence.
reinforces that social issues are a challenge to be dealt with, including unemployment,
prevalent drug availability, illegal dumping (pavements and vacant stands), and an influx
of people making use of transport and education facilities as potential targets for street
crime. In addition, an influx of people and cars for sporting events create easy targets
for smash and grabs and break-ins.
Albonico of Albonico Sack Mzumara (ASM) Architects & Urban Designers, who worked in
association with MMA Architects and Newtown Landscape Architects (NLA) on this project,
emphasizes that the urban design of this area should respond to a monitoring system
comprising various tiers of policing.
Various physical-decline symptoms relate to the social issues, such as a large
number of liquor outlets, panel beaters, scrap yards and second-hand shops, dilapidated
and abandoned buildings, which are illegally occupied, illegal land-use (commercial and
residential), along with pavements and stormwater systems that have not been maintained.
nutshell, the JDAs requirement for the design of this precinct is durability and
functionality while wowing people who utilise the area.
Two critical components
Albonico elaborates on the two critical components that influence the
urban-design process: upgrading of the stadium and the introduction of the bus rapid
transit (BRT) system arranged to serve surrounding institutions while alleviating the
impact of parking associated with the upgrading of sports facilities. Public
transport is an integral part of the 2010 legacy while sports facilities will offer a
valuable asset for the surrounding community, says Albonico. Furthermore, the design
aims to reinvent the streets with a robust armature of green corridors, defined access
points and a focus on pedestrian use and accessibility.
Albonico informs Urban Green File that adequate landscaping forms an integral
part of adding value and uniting the precincts various profiles and sidewalk
typologies. Each area requires a different landscaping strategy while being, as far
as possible, low maintenance and robust so that it can stand up to heavy vehicular and
pedestrian traffic, she says.
of NLA stresses that each area has its own language that ties in with the entire landscape
while being responsive to the specific context, social micro-climate and existing themes.
Landscape-design challenges include vandalism and the need for hardy vegetation.
reason, a suitable planting palette, which requires little to no irrigation, was selected.
Primarily, indigenous trees are proposed. Provision of a 12- month maintenance period to
ensure the establishment of vegetation via manual water-truck irrigation was included in
the landscaping contract.
Bus rapid transit
According to Albonico, the BRT system is one of the three routes within the
Ellis Park Precinct that defines use and function. This public-transport infrastructure
comprises a dedicated inner lane in both directions, served by central road islands that
accommodate stations comprising high-tech, enclosed structures that will temporarily hold
people within the central island and guide pedestrian movement safely across the roads to
sidewalks. Certain and unavoidable road widening had to occur to cater for the
additional lane and this has created a fair amount of controversy due to properties being
demolished, Albonico elaborates.
emphasises that an attempt was made by an integrated team to route and align the system to
minimise its impact and reduce the loss of space to private property as far as possible.
With any infrastructure development, there are implications. Adjustments are
unavoidable, so various options and their cost implications were presented for city
officials final decision. According to ASM, at the time of the writing this
article in late April 2008, 40% of the Ellis Park Precinct BRT route was complete.
Heritage routes within the precinct act as historical connections with
particular character and link to other corridors. The scale is primarily
pedestrian-related with an emphasis on the incorporation of art by local artists at
various intervals. Albonico believes that landscape art will successfully capture the
spirit of the place while showcasing the work of emerging artists from surrounding
suburbs, such as Troyeville. Apparently the public art is meant to transform the
neighbourhood, such as the area around the infamously unsafe Joe Slovo Drive and Beit
Street, where African angels have been placed to watch over the
environment and create a humanising focus.
Pedestrianisation is an essential aspect of the precincts design. Otto
indicates this ensures that human use, as the lowest common denominator, is accommodated
as far as possible. Additional lighting and signage will be introduced to provide
legibility, specifically for the influx of tourists to the area, as well as safety and
security for all pedestrians and locals, adds Albonico.
lighting will improve passive surveillance while, in most places, a strip of planting will
separate pedestrian traffic from vehicular activity.
be strategically placed beneath shade trees, sidewalks will be suitably sized and
surface-treated while paraplegic-friendly ramps will be incorporated at all intersections.
NLA recommends the use of smaller trees in certain areas due to limited sidewalk space.
Human scale and natural surveillance also had to be considered. The primary idea is
to create sub-spaces, which are more intimate and bring groups of users together for sport
and other functions, Albonico points out.
Green corridors act as
Finally, a routing system of major significance is the establishment and
enhancement of green corridors. It is an overall urban-design principle to create a
network of public open spaces. Our goal is to turn lost spaces into positive spaces
by turning misused open areas into pocket parks, intimates an enthusiastic Albonico.
informal parks will line all connections linking to Bezuidenhout Park. She hopes to
achieve three times as much greenery as before and thus provide a spicing
element along the 2 km route.
Square functions as
The specific landscape design NLA undertook within the greater Ellis Park
Precinct includes the design of the sports precinct, otherwise known as the Ellis Park
Central Square, situated between the Johannesburg Stadium and Ellis Park Stadium. The
square acts as the node from which six other landscape zones, including streets and public
open spaces, radiate.
Albonico, the central square is of major importance for sport and social interaction. She
emphasizes that the previous design of the space, completed when South Africa hosted the
All Africa Games, inadequately catered for current and future needs. The elevated nature
of the previous park cut off visibility problematic in terms of safety and
security. The new design aims to increase unity and flexibility as a space through which
large crowds can comfortably pass. This area is in dire need of revitalization as it
is in a state of degradation, stresses Otto.
primary goal for the square is to establish a connection between the two stadiums hence
the trees and planting should not hinder the connectivity but rather strengthen movement
systems and vistas. Albonico informs Urban Green File that the origin of the Jukskei River
is celebrated within this space by means of an interactive water feature in which children
can learn about the historic river system.
she points out that movement from the inner city symbolically terminates at the fountain,
which has a civic scale and presence with respect to the choice of material (granite). The
materials are of a high quality and robust with clearly define dedges.
feature will work in four parts. The first portion consists of fine mist bubblers, which
symbolise origin, followed by small jets and a transition to larger bubblers symbolising
the flow of a river.
will conclude in a waterfall structure that further enhances the idea of origin and
magnitude. NLA promotes the use of sculptural, indigenous trees and focal planting to
create emphasis and an aesthetically-pleasing environment surrounding the water feature.
clear edges are defined by a double line of trees while the large scale is composed of
sub-spaces as far as possible.
confides that NLA hopes an irrigation system will be included in the budget to ensure this
2010 prime project is enhanced and the quality of the project is maintained. The square
will be completed by the end of 2008.
Transport square links
The second high-activity open space to be upgraded is the New Doornfontein
Transport Square. This space is derelict and has become increasingly dangerous over the
years. Albonico says the taxi ranks redesign had to accommodate the same number of
taxis to maintain efficiency. In addition, a market and basketball court, along with a
certain amount of greening, and possibly even an orchard, will be constructed.
upgrading of the taxi rank highlights that the urban design of this precinct is not just
about public spaces but also about connections that should be celebrated, and made more
obvious and attractive to users.
adamant the revitalisation of the taxi rank, which is split from the rest of the precinct
by the railway line, will improve links to the rest of the city. She lists the landscape
design characteristics as
a forest of fever
trees (Acacia xantophloea) as a central green feature;
the inclusion of
contrasting periphery trees, including the river bushwillow species (Combretum
erythrophyllum) with vibrant autumn colour and yellow woods (Podocarpus latifolius) with
dark evergreen colours; and
monkey thorns (Acacia
galpinii) to be introduced within two seated areas surfaced with packed rock (cemented)
and bordered by star jasmine.
mentions that, just by including trees, this landscape can be greatly improved. Completion
of the taxi precinct is scheduled for August 2008.
Detailed design creates
sense of place
Ellis Park, the landscape architects and urban designers will make use of various design
details and street furniture to create a unique sense of place.
Street vistas enhanced
emphasises the importance of enhancing the street vistas and existing lines by retaining
as much of the existing elements as aesthetically and practically feasible in combination
with suitable replacements.
upright-growing and more transparent trees are used to reinforce visual connectivity and
movement patterns. In essence, the remaining five landscape zones comprise street
upgrading projects aimed at uniting them with the existing character of the area. These
(connection of Charlton Terrace and Bertrams Road)
Existing plane trees guide a grid planting layout.
planting in BRT islands include Aloe barberae and Dombeya rotundifolia species along with
hardy combinations of Aptenia cordirolia and Chondropetalum tectorum.
Additional Podocarpus latifolius species are added to complement the existing yellowwoods.
and vandal-resistant indigenous shrub species such as Tecoma capensis, Barleria obtuse and
Dietes grandiflora are included within sidewalk strips.
of high pedestrian use are surfaced with packed rock fixed in cement to prevent
smash-and-grab with loose rockery.
Sivewright Avenue and
Existing tree species are maintained as far as possible but many will be replaced by a
suitable indigenous specie to resolve the rhythm.
planted blocks of Star Jasmine and Wild Iris are repeated.
Concrete bollards are placed regularly to prevent damage by vehicles and loss of
pedestrian space during sporting and theatre functions.
Expansive roads with narrow sidewalks and building façades directly on the servitude.
line of shrubs/ground covers to shield pedestrians incorporated wherever possible.
to no existing or additional trees.
corridor that runs adjacent to both stadiums with a focal Ellis Park entrance.
- A large
number of the existing trees (Taxus sp.) although having a certain but informal heritage
value will be removed due to age and low aesthetic value.
retention of a heritage triangle to be maintained at the entrance has yet to be resolved.
entrance road to precinct.
existing triangle islands of mixed palm-tree landscaping.
though palms are not viewed as suitable contextual vegetation, they have heritage value as
part of the existing landscape theme linking to the two palm species at the cathedral
triangles palm trees will be relocated to Wits within close proximity so they will
not be lost to the area.
Replacing lower vegetation with Carissa macrocarpa, which is very hardy but low-growing
and, therefore, not a visual hindrance.
Hardy, robust materials chosen
Resilience and hardiness are the key words that cannot be over-emphasised when
it comes to material selection in an urban-design project of this kind. Concrete is the
material of choice and perfectly suited to the required specifications due to its
resilience, hardiness, availability in a large array of textures and colours, and cost
concrete-paving manufacturer has agreed to supply a variety of easy-to-replace concrete
pavers while custom-designed, hardy, pre-cast concrete benches are introduced within the
open spaces and activity corridors. Natural stone is applied at focal areas to link
to the history of the rockery on Observatory Ridge, says Otto. Subliminally, this
natural feature is brought down to pedestrian level. Otto mentions that standard pre-cast
concrete bollards will be included in most regions due to budgetary constraints and to
link in with existing bollards. She also hopes a custom-designed bollard will be applied
at the stadium. Albonico describes the lighting design, which caters for pedestrian and
vehicular scales, and owning a subtle African theme: 2010 images have been
incorporated into the design without being over emphasised while being cross-cultural.
Fifa and legacy
of this project, says Albonico, is the constant alignment to Fifa requirements within the
framework of creating open spaces designed as a legacy for the surrounding community.
According to the JDA website, a joint inspection of Ellis Park Stadium by a Fifa and 2010
local organizing committee (LOC) team in February 2008 has been described as successful.
R2-billion Ellis Park Precinct will move to the use stage very soon and the LOC is
confident that, come 2009, everything, including the transport infrastructure and
upgrading of local neighbourhoods, will be ready for the Confederations Cup.
not the initiative will succeed in the long-term by leaving a legacy of an improved urban
environment will not only depend on rational design decisions but also on adequate urban
management and maintenance.
Success depends on
Comment by Gerald Garner
File welcomes any initiative that strives to improve the urban environment, especially if
our cities are made more pedestrian friendly. The design philosophy for the Ellis Park
Precinct seems well thoughtout and practical within the context of limited resources.
Drought-resistant planting makes sense in such a harsh environment.
has to question whether or not this initiative will last. Is this another example of a
quick-fix aesthetic approach without addressing the major issues of concern? One cannot
help wonder how the City of Johannesburg could justify its initial expenditure on this
precinct for the
Games just to leave the entire area to go to waste. Maintenance and urban management of
this area was non-existent for almost a decade. What guarantee is there that it will be
any different this time?
facility or precinct manager been appointed and has enough consideration been given to the
practicalities of daily urban management? For instance, is the waste collection and
management system incorporated into the design of the area?
encouraging to hear that the source of the Jukskei River is acknowledged by the design
team. In fact, adjacent to the nearby Ponte building is the source of the river in the
form of a covered fountain feeding into an underground canal. The significance of this
source is in Urban Green Files opinion not celebrated enough. Does the city realise
it is, in fact, the source of the Limpopo River and situated on the continental watershed
known as the Witwatersrand. From here water feeds either the catchment areas of the Orange
(Atlantic Ocean) or Limpopo (Indian Ocean) river systems. Although the designers of the
Ellis Park Precinct cannot be held responsible for this, Urban Green File argues the city
should do more, and quickly, to improve the quality of this river resource.
for later would seem to be postponing it forever.
Ultimately, the precinct will only be
successful if it is properly managed and maintained and if property owners are convinced
it is a sound investment to develop appropriate buildings that will act as edges or
interfaces with the public spaces. Although the existing design and urban scaping work
will, undoubtedly, improve the precincts environmental quality, long-term success
depends on much more than just adding new paving, plants, lights and street furniture. For
this, the city will need a dedicated precinct-management team.
One block to kick-start
Monica Albonico emphasises that the concept and strategy of the Ellis Park Precinct
involves the promotion of a positive response by the private sector to rejuvenating the
existing commercial and residential functions of the area. She says that 2 200 new
residential units are planned directly adjacent to the precinct. The JDA believes one
block is all that it will take to act as the catalyst for the rejuvenation of the whole
suburb and Agmat Badat confirms it is the JDAs goal, with all its interventions, to
regenerate areas not only from an aesthetic perspective but to encourage property
owners to invest in their buildings so that more people are attracted to the area. The JDA
has bought a city block in the suburb of Bertrams to kick-start this movement.
The approach to the precincts microclimate involved a balance of hard and
soft surfaces with as much greenery as possible, taking into account that the area has to
cater for the movement of big crowds and comply with Fifa guidelines. Otto mentions that
design in response to solar aspect is most noticeable, particularly regarding the choice
of deciduous or evergreen-tree species at the transport square. NLAs intention is
that adequate shade and non-reflective, penetrable soft platforms will enhance the
microclimate while selecting a vegetation palette, which is suited to the climatic
characteristics of the region.
Jukskei upgrade not
part of project
The upgrading and revitalisation of the Jukskei canal does not form part of the
Ellis Park Precinct project for 2010 but treatment of this linear space will be addressed
at a later development stage.
recommends that the canal is opened up and the river edges are dealt with to create a more
positive effect while dealing with troubling water-quality issues within industrial areas.
No specific plan for stormwater management was included in the upgrade as the JDA desired
a uniform treatment, which links to existing stormwater control measures. Additional green
pads of soft space to attenuate and filter runoff have been introduced to minimise the
effect of hard surfaces, however.
ENVIRONMENTAL PLANNING & DESIGN
Station precincts to be planned
contractors and material suppliers would be well-advised to follow developments around the
planning of station precincts in northern Gauteng. This is because Intersite Northern
Gauteng Region has just issued a call for consultants and/or consortia to submit service
fee proposals for the preparation of urban development frameworks for many stations within
the region. Stations include Irene, Pretoria, Centurion, Mamelodi Gardens, Denneboom,
Eerstefabrieke, Loftus, Kopanong, Soshanguve, Atteridgeville, Saulsville, Kalafong,
Rosslyn, Akasiaboom, Silverton, Koedoespoort, Mears, Medunsa and Taliardshoop. The
submission of development proposals will close on July 16 2008.
cast in concrete
A ruling in a recent case in the Supreme Court of Appeal (Linvestment cc v Hammersley) has
the implication that servitudes are not cast in concrete.
is registered against the title deeds of a property and is binding on successive owners in
registered servitude over a property without the consent of the property owners,
therefore, provides the ingredients for disagreement.
case, the court took up its duty to, from time to time, modernise the law, Andrew Donnelly
of Shepstone & Wylies litigation department tells Urban Green File.
had to consider whether or not a property owner could vary the terms of a registered
servitude without the consent of the holder of the servitude.
(appellant) applied for an order amending the path of an existing servitude over its
property and was prepared to pay all costs relating to the change to ensure the amendment
of the servitude did not inconvenience or prejudice Hammersley (respondent) in whose
benefit the servitude operated.
respondent refused to agree to the proposed servitude amendment and maintained, as a
matter of law, once the servitude had been registered in the title deeds, it was not
capable of variation without the consent of both property owners.
Court of Appeal concluded Roman and Roman Dutch authorities held a registered servitude
could not be changed without the mutual consent of both property owners.
the court accepted the duty and challenge it was obliged to make and modernise the law
from time to time and said the interests of justice do, indeed, require a change in
our established law on the subject. The rigid enforcement of a servitude where the
sanctity of a contract or the strict terms of the grant benefit neither party but, on the
contrary, operate prejudicially on one of them, seems to me indefensible. Servitudes are,
by their nature, often the creation of preceding generations devised in another time to
serve ends which must now be satisfied in a different environment.
decided to follow a more flexible legal approach and held, if the proposed change was
reasonable, the court may vary or modify the terms of a registered servitude without the
consent of the property owner who enjoys the benefit of the servitude.
parent company of South African firm, SSI Engineers & Environmental Consultants, has
been commissioned, together with the Chinese planning institute, Qinghua, and Arup of the
UK to carry out a coastal and urban development project in China. The coastal city will be
built on an area of 150 km² to provide space for 1-million inhabitants.
DHV, it won the assignment by including, in its concept for the area, an island and lagoon
structure, which is reminiscent of the Dutch Wadden Sea. DHV informed Urban Green File:
The concept allows for the creation of fresh groundwater in a sustainable manner for
use in the citys green spaces. The new coastal city will be built in
Caofeidian, an industrial zone in northern China on the Bohai Sea.
AND POLLUTION MANAGEMENT
Urban water quality monitored
monitoring the quality of urban waters, diatoms offer a bio-monitoring option that seems
more reliable than physio-chemical measurement and this is an inexpensive and easy
method of analysis and sampling.
is a country rich in natural resources. However one such resource is under threat. South
Africa has a limited water supply, necessitating effective management of this precious
resource not only in terms of adequate distribution networks but also in terms of
reason, monitoring schemes are quite common in South Africa at national, provincial
or local level. They monitor the levels of sets of environmental variables in the water
resources with the sets of variables usually consisting of physical (for example,
temperature and turbidity) and chemical (for example, nutrient levels, salinity,
electrical conductivity and pH) variables. However these measurements only provide a
snapshot of the overall water quality in a particular water body due to the
dynamic nature of these systems. This means fluctuations in the levels of environmental
variables may not be adequately detected.
For a more holistic picture of the condition of water resources, the use of
bio-monitoring techniques has been employed. Most notable among these are the South
African Scoring System (SASS) based on macro-invertebrates, the Fish Health Index (FHI),
the Riparian Vegetation Index (RVI) and the Index of Habitat Integrity (IHI). These
bio-monitoring techniques have been used with great success in the National River Health
Programme in addition to the measurement of environmental variables.
monitoring of biological communities has several advantages over the monitoring of
physio-chemical variables alone. Biological communities reflect overall ecological quality
and integrate the effects of different impacts and also provide an ecological measurement
of fluctuating environmental conditions. This approach also measures the response of
organisms that are continuously exposed to water and the pollutants therein, and these
organisms reflect the actual effects of the pollutants on the aquatic ecosystem.
The use of
biological communities to assess water quality is also reliable and relatively inexpensive
compared to the cost of assessing pollutants with the traditional analytical methods.
Despite the advantages of bio-indicators, there are still some inherent
inadequacies in the existing suite of indicators widely used in monitoring South Africas
are largely based on the animal component of aquatic ecosystems.
poses problems, such as difficulty during sampling due to motility, uneven distribution,
limitation to habitat, complexity in identification during certain life stages and strong
linkages with seasonality.
group of organisms can be labelled as the perfect bio-indicator.
Diatoms can indicate
There is one group of organisms, though, present almost everywhere water is
found, that shares few of these limitations. They are most commonly known as diatoms
a group of algae that often makes up the majority of the algal composition of an
aquatic ecosystem. Diatoms can occur free-floating in the water or grow attached to
substrata, such as submerged rocks, plants and concrete in canals. Diatoms can be
distinguished from other algae by a characteristic brown colour and slimy
touch due to the secretion of mucilage for locomotion and attachment to a substratum.
regarded by many researchers as sub-cosmopolitan. This means they occur where
a certain set of environmental conditions exist. In contrast with so many other organisms,
geographical location does not hinder its distribution.
occurrence of a diatom species at a particular site is governed by environmental
conditions at that site. Diatoms attached to a substratum (cobbles, boulders, pebbles and
concrete) are referred to as the epilithon and are the preferred communities for
monitoring water quality. As these diatoms are attached to the substratum and use
nutrients (phosphates and nitrates, among others) and other micronutrients as food source,
they respond directly to fluctuations in nutrient levels, stressors (toxicants and/or
pollutants) and physical conditions in the water body. They, therefore, reflect and are
sensitive to changes in water quality.
ecological requirements of a large amount of diatom species are well known, so that
accurate deductions can be made about the physical and chemical properties of the water in
which it occurs. These deductions are usually based on the abundance of certain diatom
Since the latter half of the past century, several diatom indices have been
developed in an attempt to classify the quality of water usually based on a scale
dependent on the criterion in question (for example, to indicate the level of organic
pollution, the trophic level of the water and the general water quality, to mention but a
few). The numerical value of the particular diatom index results from the average of the
optimum water-quality conditions for the species. This is then weighted by the abundance
of each of the species.
attractive feature of the use of diatoms as indicators of water quality is the ease with
which diatom samples can be collected and processed. The field equipment needed to collect
diatom samples can be made up of everyday items, including a toothbrush (to dislodge the
cells from the substratum), a sampling tray and sampling bottles.
samples require some processing in the laboratory. However the laboratory equipment
necessary for the processing of samples isnt very expensive and processing can be
completed in a short space of time, and the relevant skills involved are easily acquired
through practice. The end product of a processed sample is a permanent diatom slide ready
for analysis by a trained diatomist.
Preserved unprocessed and processed samples, as well as permanent slides, can
be stored for years under the right conditions; creating opportunities for baseline and
follow-up studies to be conducted.
possible is the assessment of the change in water quality of a particular water resource
over a long period. In addition, it allows for checking of the proficiency of the analyst
when involved in a proficiency-testing scheme similar to those used in routine algal
results, the diatom slide has to be analysed by an individual who has been trained in the
identification of diatom species. Analysis requires the use of a microscope and the
species is mainly distinguished from one another by the arrangement of a variety of
ornamentations on the silica cell wall. For routine monitoring, a few hundred cells need
to be identified and enumerated in order to obtain an accurate representation of the
diatom community. The abundant data on each species is then interpreted and used to
calculate index values. These calculations are often helped by entering the abundance data
into a software package, which calculates the values for a variety of diatom indices.
Substantial research in
Substantial research has been done on diatoms from the early 1900s; covering
their classification but, more relevant to this discussion, efficacy as bio-indicators.
Most notable were the contributions of Cholnoky, Schoeman and Archibald in the mid to late
1900s. These diatomists described a host of new species and contributed greatly to the
knowledge of diatoms and the relationship to water quality on an international scale. More
recently, after a period of about 20 years when very little was published on South African
diatoms, this kind of research underwent a renaissance with contributions by
Bate and Adams and, more significantly, Dr Taylor at the Potchefstroom campus of North
West University (NWU).
protocol developed in South Africa
applied, with great success, a host of diatom indices mainly developed in Europe
to the Vaal River. This study paved the way for the Diatom Assessment Protocol
(Water Research Commission Project K5/1588 Development of a Diatom Assessment Protocol for
River Health Assessment) and resulted in standard methods recommended for sampling and
processing, as well as identification manuals of species commonly occurring in South
African waters. As a bio-monitoring tool, diatoms have also been used in South Africa in
recent years in a variety of environments, ranging from pristine to severely impacted,
such as mountainous rivers, wetlands, mining environments and urban environments
research mainly conducted at NWU.
Urban rivers present
In light of the advantages involved in the use of bio-indicators, in addition
to physiochemical constituents, urban environments provide unique challenges. Streams and
rivers in urban environments are often canalised mainly for the control of
floodwaters and the collection of stormwater.
practice of replacing the natural stream bed with an impervious layer of concrete has
impacted on the functioning of aquatic ecosystems. The result is the destruction of the
natural habitat for many organisms that inhabit these waterways.
existing suite of bio-indicators commonly used in South Africa loses its efficacy as there
is an absence of organisms on which they are based. But, since diatoms are microscopic,
they are less affected by the loss of habitat common in urban environments and, indeed,
flourish on submerged concrete canal bottoms because they are directly influenced mainly
by chemical water quality.
challenge posed by the urban environment is that of extremes in terms of flow rate,
temperature and nutrient fluctuations.
to the natural environment where a large rain storm leads to the dilution of pollutants,
these storms often lead to a concentration of pollutants from the urban environment into
the urban rivers. For this reason, the quality of urban stormwater is often compared to
that of sewage in terms of suspended solids, metals and/or biological oxygen demand.
survey of metropolitan canals revealed that, despite the absence of other indicator
organisms, diatoms were present on all sites but one. In reality, some of the lowest
diatom index scores recorded in South African waters were from these waters and, despite
this, the diatom indices were still able to distinguish different levels of bad water
quality. Diatoms are, therefore, an ideal bio-indicator for monitoring the state of urban
proves value of diatoms
Another recent study of an urban canal in Potchefstroom has shown that diatom
communities are able to respond to subtle changes in water quality within a harsh and
unpredictable urban environment (high water temperatures, high concentrations of dissolved
oxygen, high pollutant levels and fluctuating pH between 6 and 10) and that diatom indices
derived from the community composition reflect these changes to a high degree. Diatom
indices showed strong correlations to the measured heavy-metal concentrations, which were
also reflected in distortion of the diatom cell walls. The changes in diatom communities
and diatom index values also clearly indicated the influence of a polluted urban tributary
on the Mooi River to a much higher degree than shown by concurrent physio-chemical
measurements on these sites.
advantages of using bio-indicators are clear but, more importantly, the use of diatoms to
monitor urban environments has numerous advantages above other bio-monitoring techniques
and even physio-chemical measurements. The inclusive nature with which these organisms
reflect water quality, combined with the relatively inexpensive cost of analysis and ease
of sampling, places this group of organisms in a favourable position to become the
bio-indicators of choice in urban and other environments.
GP Kriel is an environmental consultant at
Environmental Impact Management Services.
For more information on the River Health Programme,
future not wasted
After a visit to IFAT 2008 in Munich, Germany, Urban
Green File unpacks wastemanagement trends of the future.
Early in May
2008, Urban Green File had the privilege of spending some time in Munich, Germany a
city that boasts some remarkable contemporary architecture, and leading environmental and
urban design. It is noticeable how pedestrian- and cycling-friendly this city is.
Widespread tree planting and visible recycling, through separate waste bins for different
waste streams, add to Munichs environmental quality.
purpose of Urban Green Files visit was not to marvel at the citys planning and
design but to visit IFAT 2008 the worlds largest environmental technology,
water, waste and recycling exhibition. Boasting more than 2 500 exhibitors filling all the
indoor halls (18 in total) plus some outdoor exhibition space at the impressive Messe
Munchen, the show is a must-visit for anyone who wants to stay abreast of environmental
technology and industry trends. Only staged every three years, the next show is scheduled
for 2011 and Urban Green File readers would be well-advised to pencil the event into their
Visible trends at IFAT
2008 of interest to the South African marketplace included
equipment for recycling and composting applications;
electricity and heat from biomass specifically from waste projects rather than food
small-scale plants for
the treatment of wastewater.
storage introduced to South Africa
Urban Green File first reported on the trend towards underground waste storage in its
December 2006 print edition after visiting the Entsorga exhibition in Cologne, Germany.
The advantages of these systems are obvious: more waste can be stored over a longer period
and this means less collection cycles for a municipality.
downstream benefits include fewer emissions from waste trucks, lower fuel costs and less
labour requirements as well as a significantly cleaner urban environment.
2008, Otto displayed various underground waste-bin solutions. As Urban Green File was
writing from Munich, it was not possible to reach Rob Lerena of Otto Waste Systems in
South Africa for comment. However municipalities and private property developers, as well
as facilities managers, would be well advised to look at Ottos underground waste
bins as an option. In addition to the waste bins, Otto also displayed a very attractive
range of street furniture: Urban Plus Otto Public Furnishings.
H&G displayed another range of underground waste-storage bins. Indeed visually
appealing and practical, Urban Green File is of the opinion that these products would be
welcomed by South African cities. However, at this stage, H&G is not represented in
Urban Green File has been told by Mervin Cherrington of Landfill Equipment that he is
close to securing the rights for another underground waste-bin brand and he hopes to
introduce this range to the South African market in coming months.
South Africans at IFAT
Although not a single South African company exhibited at IFAT, a fair number of South
African visitors were spotted at the show. Apart from Cherrington, Alan Willcocks of
Interwaste looked for new technologies to take his waste-contracting business to new
heights. Also in attendance was Johan van der Merwe of TFM Industries. Apart from
Doppstadt, TFM is also the South African representative of Dennis Eagles range of
bodies made for waste vehicles. Dennis Eagle has become part of the Ros Roca group;
opening up possibilities for other products to enter the South African marketplace. Deryk
Flynn, GM: export at Dennis Eagle in Warwick, UK, talked to Urban Green File at IFAT. He
spoke highly of TFM Industriess reputation so much so that TFM is a licensed
manufacturer of Dennis Eagle products in South Africa. It is a good and reliable
partner we can trust to maintain a presence for Dennis Eagle in the international market,
said Flynn. Many IFAT exhibitors listed international agents, subsidiaries and partners on
their exhibition stands and, thus, a significant number of South African companies had a
presence albeit indirectly.
Green File met included:
Phoenix Contact (water
and waste industry) with a full office in South Africa.
Weidenmann (turf care
and groundmaintenance machines) represented by Smith Turf Equipment in South Africa.
AnoxKaldnes (a Veolia
Water company) represented in South Africa by Keyplan.
(specialising in vacuum sewerage technology) represented by Denorco in South Africa and
Orbit Pumps in Botswana. Johnston (waste trucks) represented by Transtech in South Africa.
represented by Astore in South Africa.
Mobile shredders galore
A wide array of mobile shredders was on display at IFAT. This is in line with
the European trend for pre-treatment and recycling of waste. Waste is no longer landfilled
unless it has first been pretreated. For this reason, most recyclable waste is separated
from the waste stream, shredded and re-used.
have applications in the landscaping field where plant and food waste can be composted but
also widely used in applications like recycling of tyres. On show at IFAT were many
brands, including Doppstadt (represented by TFM Industries in South Africa), Haas, Hammel
(part of Terex Fuchs), Komptech and Willibald, to name a few.
At the TANA
stand, Urban Green File met Mervin Cherrington of the South African waste-equipment
company, Landfill Equipment. Cherrington is well-known for representing the TANA range of
waste-compacting equipment/rollers used on landfill sites. Landfill Equipment hopes to
introduce the new TANAShark mobile shredder to the South African market. If Cherrington
secures an order for this machine, delegates at Wastecon in Durban will be able to view
the TANAShark. It is a slow-speed shredder suited to trees, plant material, such as
branches, and even tyres. The design of the machine was prompted by the EU directive that
all waste must be pretreated before landfill. This, of course, is not yet the case
in South Africa where many materials, including building rubble, end up on landfills;
making shredding impossible, Cherrington told Urban Green File. However
companies that handle specific waste streams, such as tyres, cardboard or compost, would
benefit from a TANAShark machine, he pointed out.
HAMMEL RecyclingTechnik told Urban Green File it has sold its first machine into South
Africa with arrival scheduled for September 2008.
Noticeable at IFAT 2008 was the focus on biomass as a source of energy. Almost
an entire hall was dedicated to companies in this field. According to Bavarian State
Minister of the Environment, Public Health & Consumer Protection, Dr Otmar Bernhard,
in the state of Bavaria, Germany, the use of biomass as a primary energy source increased
by 40% between 1998 and 2004. Apparently 5,2% of primary energy consumption in Bavaria is
generated from biomass. With South Africas shortage of generating capacity, a figure
of 5% that can be generated from an alternative source should not go unnoticed.
the world food crisis has not gone unnoticed and there is widespread awareness of the fact
that biofuel, generated from food crops, is falling out of favour. However, at IFAT, great
emphasis was placed on the generation of electricity from waste materials a win-win
as it also reduces the volumes of waste and, therefore, saves on valuable landfill space
not to mention the climate-protection benefits of reducing emissions.
Bernhard, biomass should be considered as an option where electricity and heating is
required as biomass can be used up to three times more efficiently and is
significantly more cost-effective with considerable higher energy- and, therefore,
climate-protection potential than in present-day production of biofuels.
It must be
noted, though, that in most biogas plants, the utilisation of heat is inadequate although
more than half the energy produced is in the form of heat, claims Bernhard.
waste should be separated for energy generation
In line with
the focus on biomass as an energy-generation option, the organisers of IFAT 2008 suggested
the use of ordinary household waste for electricity generation.
waste and food remains that people put in a bin designated for this purpose are ideal for
use in fermentation processes to produce biogas, an IFAT media statement claimed.
At the moment, in Germany, a large portion of the 8,4-million t (2006) of organic
waste collected separately from households is still being composted but the debate on
climate change, high energy prices, German government funding through the Renewable Energy
and advances in biogas technology are raising interest in fermenting this waste.
Apparently biogas can also be generated from unsorted general household waste through a
process of mechanical-biological treatment (MBT). The MBT system would sort waste,
initially mechanically via sifting and segregation processes, into different streams
according to material type. In this way, the biological portion can be either composted or
fermented to biogas.
According to the IFAT organiser, there are 48 MBT systems operating
in Germany of which eight are producing biogas.
Industrial park powered
Urban Green File learned at IFAT that the Hochst Industrial Park in Frankfurt
am Main will boast a 15-million euro biogas-to-electricity plant. Again South African
industry should take note as with a shortage of energy in general, rising electricity
prices and international demand for products produced with cleaner energy than coal-fired
power, biogas should certainly be considered as an option. The Hochst Industrial Park will
consume 310 000 t of industrial sludge per year and this will be supplemented by 90 000 t
of food waste, waste from abattoirs, used oils and fats, and residues from the
pharmaceutical industry 4 MW of electricity and 2 MW of heat will be generated,
providing the 90 chemicals, pharmaceuticals and biotechnology companies in the park with
an environment-friendly disposal solution for their organic waste, as well as electricity
Not many biogas
specialists in South Africa
What was clear at IFAT 2008 is the significant trend towards electricity
generation from biomass. Many European, specifically German, companies exhibited their
technologies and services in this field but with much development in this field happening
in Germany, most of these companies are focused on that region only. Urban Green File
believes it will take a decade or so for these companies to branch out and establish truly
global footprints. However this should not deter South African companies from considering
biogas as an electricity generation option it is in line with co-generation
principles promoted in the mining industry and could be an opportunity for Independent
Power Producers if the cost of Eskoms, mostly coal-fired, power increases as
expected. Companies that participated in IFAT 2008, specialising in the field of
container-type, landfill gas plants globally)
(Austrian Energy & Environment Group active globally)
Enbasys Biotech Energy
(based in Austria)
MT-Energie (offices in
Europe, USA and Southeast Asia)
Nehlsen (based in
Germany with three international locations)
e.on (based in
Ros Roca (worldwide,
including Spain, Portugal, Germany and Brazil)
Vacuum sewerage an
alternative for SA?
Conventional gravity sewer systems require vast amounts of water to operate and most often
clean drinking water is flushed away with sewage. In South Africa, where water is a scarce
resource, vacuum sewerage systems could provide a sustainable alternative. At IFAT 2008,
Urban Green File spoke to Dr Volker Zang, MD, and Lars Spath, director: business unit:
vacuum sewerage, of Roediger Vacuum, the company behind the RoeVac system. Apparently
Roedigers Botswana agent, Orbit Pumps, has already installed such a system in
Botswana and the South African agent, Denorco, in a Cape Town township. They claim it is
the ideal technology for areas where space is at a premium and where it is impossible to
dig deep trenches. Vacuum sewer systems require substantially smaller pipes than
traditional sewers, Spath stated. Steep slopes are not required; making
shallow installation possible. They are self-cleaning and do not need water for pipe
therefore, more economical and superior to conventional systems from an ecological
perspective. Meanwhile Willem Goosen of Flovac in the Netherlands told Urban Green
File that vacuum sewerage promises a green future. Vacuum sewer systems
have been accepted in more than 40 countries as a low-cost, environment-friendly method of
transferring wastewater away from houses to treatment plants, he said. Flovac does
not yet have a presence in South Africa but would be interested in looking at local
project opportunities. The company, though, already operates in at least 18 countries
wastewater plants in demand
significant trend at IFAT 2008 was the refitting of small-scale wastewater plants and
septic tanks. New environmental technologies are making it possible to treat wastewater
through small-scale plants even in ecologically-sensitive areas. Dr Bernhard says
about 100 000 small-scale wastewater plants have been refitted in Bavaria since 2003. He
is of the opinion German industry can look forward to good export prospects in terms of
this technology. South Africa, in turn, can look forward to newer and more ecologically
appropriate, small-scale wastewater technologies in the near future.
just another monument to Mandela, Lilliesleaf is a calming influence on the landscape.
site in Rivonia, Johannesburg, where Nelson Mandela lived at the time of his arrest is the
location of the Lilliesleaf visitor and resource centres. The buildings designed by
Mashabane Rose Architects (MRA) and landscape designed by Green Inc
are in complete harmony.
simplicity of the design treatment shows respect for the significance of the site while it
creates a distinct sense of place. The project was spearheaded by Nicholas Wolpe, CEO of
the Lilliesleaf Trust.
The farm was
converted into a public museum through the restoration of the manor house and adapting the
structures of the outbuildings as far as possible. A new visitor centre was added and this
structure sits gently in the landscape; blending old, new and the environment.
contemporary buildings have been designed with clean lines, open light spaces and
materials that echo the outbuildings.
forms are quite different from the manor house but resonate strongly with the old
McClenaghan of MRA expresses his wish to Urban Green File: I hope the people who
remember the place as it was 40 or 50 years ago will feel the quietness of the
architecture, which is born out of a deep and profound respect.
File finds the simplistic but appropriate architectural and landscape treatment
inspirational. The historical events and their consequences reverberate through the
buildings; quietened and calmed by the tranquil outdoor spaces.
In-depth articles on Lilliesleaf appeared in the March 2008 edition of Architechnology and
the May 2008 edition of JFM Business, Retail & Leisure Facilities both sister
magazines of Urban Green File.
Buffer strips still in place!
than a decade after the end of apartheid, South African towns still keep their buffer
Green File, it remains mind-boggling that little has been done by South African
municipalities to bridge the buffer strips that marked towns in the apartheid era. Large
tracts of land were left undeveloped to provide buffers between neighbourhoods zoned for
though, newly-formed municipalities in a democratic South Africa have done little to
address this travesty. Many buffer strips remain as undeveloped, unsafe no-mans
land. Affordable housing projects are still often developed on the outskirts of
traditional townships; reinforcing the segregated living patterns of apartheid while
maintaining unsustainable city patterns with the poor living furthest away from work
through South Africas many countryside towns, one always finds a township (with new
schools and RDP housing galore), then a piece of empty land and then the traditional
white town. In cities, it may be less obvious but, until today, buffer strips
exist throughout our metropolitan areas.
It is time
for South Africans to exploit the benefits of developing this land; of establishing new
links that could make our cities easier to navigate and result in significant savings when
it comes to unnecessary transport costs.
It is time
to bridge the buffer strip!
Public participation of value?
Is public participation,
as part of environmental impact assessments, effective? Only if there is an organized
impact assessments (EIAs) have been part of South African environmental law since the
enactment of the EIA regulations under the Environmental Conservation Act of 1998
amended and streamlined since the new EIA regulations were introduced in 2006 under the
National Environmental Management Act; now undergoing further amendments. Public
participation, and the publics right to information by interested and affected
parties (IAPs), is a fundamental cornerstone of participatory environmental democracies
around the world. However, an allegation frequently levelled at the EIA process is that it
is merely a rubber-stamping exercise carried out by the applicants consultant and
given credence by the regulators. If the allegation is correct, then participation by the
IAPs (particularly those representing public interests, such as NGOs and environmental
action groups) is completely ineffective.
the applicants, often large corporations with considerable resources, merely ride
roughshod over the IAPs rights and objections, as well as legitimate participation
in the EIA process.
While it is
easy to understand why public interest groups may feel this way towards EIAs, it is
submitted that this is not the case either factually or as interpreted by our courts
as evidenced by judgments like Director: Mineral Development Gauteng Region and
Another v Save the Vaal Environment and Others and, more recently, Earthlife Africa (Cape
Town) v Director General: Department of Environmental Affairs & Tourism and Another.
former case, the court confirmed the basic principle of audi alteram partem, stating all
parties must be given the right to a fair hearing during public participation on matters
relating to decisions taken by the authorities.
In the more
recent Earthlife Africa case, the court again confirmed the importance of public
participation and stated all information in the public domain and in possession of the
authorities must be distributed to the public in order for the public to participate
meaningfully in the process.
cases, as well as some others, lend support to the contention that public participation is
not a mere rubberstamping process. In fact, it is a meaningful part of the EIA and failure
by applicants and their environmental consultants to adequately engage with the public is
seen in serious light by the courts. Indeed it can be a fatal flaw in an EIA process.
If this is
the case, then one must examine the question: Why do public interest groups find it so
difficult to participate meaningfully in the EIA process?
of the process is such that the environmental consultants are experts at running the
process as efficiently as possible. In their own words, they are process specialists.
of information supplied to IAPs and the level of participation with IAPs vary. At some
public participation meetings, the level of interaction is excellent while, in other
instances, it is very basic.
IAPs do to ensure they do participate meaningfully and any queries or objections are taken
seriously? Part of the answer may lie in having an organized participation strategy.
includes set objectives and the right people with the requisite skills on ones side.
The applicants environmental consultants will often have almost unlimited access to
information and legal resources. However IAPs can counter this by using the information
given to them by the applicants environmental consultants. Where, however, this
information is lacking, the process often needs to be bolstered by including process
experts on the IAPs side. This could be in the form of a legal expert and an
Article by Adam Gunn, director at Routledge
Modise in association with Eversheds.