An aerial view of Melrose Arch in Johannesburg, which is part of the Amdec Group’s portfolio. As Johannesburg prepares for the month-long EcoMobility World Festival in October, intended to provide the public with an urban ecomobile experience, Melrose Arch is participating as a park-and-ride venue into Sandton.
In October the City of Johannesburg will host the second EcoMobility World Festival, but EcoMobility is far from a new phenomenon in the city, in fact the city broke new ground in EcoMobility over a decade ago with the development of Melrose Arch.
As the globe turns its attention on the city’s EcoMobility initiatives, certain streets of the Sandton CBD – known as the richest square mile in Africa – will be dedicated to pedestrians and cyclists, while other streets will give preference to people walking, cycling and using public transport.
The EcoMobility World Festival is an international event attended by mayors from major cities, transport decision-makers, thought leaders and innovators. The first Festival, organised in partnership with ICLEI – Local Governments for Sustainability, was held in Suwon, South Korea in 2013.
As Johannesburg prepares for the month-long festival, intended to provide the public with an urban ecomobile experience, Melrose Arch is participating as a park-and-ride venue into Sandton, providing 200 dedicated parking bays for commuters using the Gautrain and Gautrain busses. However, at the same time, it will showcase its own vibrant, modern and pedestrian friendly environment.
Melrose Arch is part of the Amdec Group portfolio. Amdec is a privately-owned property development and investment business recognised as South Africa’s leading developer of New Urban lifestyles.
Josef Quraishi, head of sustainability and green building for Amdec says that while the World Eco-Mobility Festival will most certainly catapult the topic of transport in major cities into popular debate, the success of such initiatives can be much more effective, and easier to implement, when urban design and planning for a pedestrian friendly environment is a forethought, rather than an afterthought. This is an advantage that Melrose Arch knows well.
“The mixed-use precinct has, from its inception, encouraged the ability for shoppers, diners, tourists, visitors, employees and employers to capitalise on a more sustainable way to experience life. Upon arrival at Melrose Arch, it is clear that EcoMobility is at its very heart. The designers of Melrose Arch embraced the ethos of New Urbanism and, with that thinking, the car takes second place to that of pedestrian,” explains Quraishi.
First conceived in the 1990’s, and developed more than a full decade before the birth of the South African green building sustainability movement, the 19 hectare site now home to the developing Melrose Arch precinct was specifically chosen to embrace forward thinking EcoMobility.
From its central location close to all major transportation links, now including the Gautrain and Gautrain Bus system, its accessibility has only increased. “Having the largest super-basement in South Africa, many vehicle owners arriving at Melrose Arch will find themselves navigated to the underground parking in order to ensure that at ground level, everyone can enjoy the freedom and convenience experienced in some of the most incredible cities in the world,” adds Quraishi.
Designed for and with the full enjoyment of walking in mind, the precinct considers the pedestrian at every turn; with tree-lined avenues populated by street furniture, buildings with engaging and active facades. Where it does have street-level boulevards and lanes, it has traffic calming measures throughout.
In keeping with pioneering key features of an ‘eco-city’, Melrose Arch will take eco-mobility even further through the introduction of charging stations for electric vehicles. The precinct is also in discussions over implementing new world-class initiatives like on-line carpooling facilities as well as electric bicycle hiring stations.
“Melrose Arch has proudly pioneered sustainability best practice, ecomobility and New Urbanism in South Africa, the upcoming Eco-Mobility World Festival presents the perfect opportunity to once again raise awareness of the benefits of reducing our dependence on fossil-fuelled travel and caring for our environment by taking care of how we get around. This includes being thoughtful in our decisions about where to base our businesses, do our shopping and enjoy our leisure time,” says Quraishi.