The Rise of Smart Cities

Mixed-use De­vel­op­ments Em­brace the Lat­est Tech­nol­ogy

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Be­yond the new ur­ban­ism trend – where all daily re­quire­ments are within easy reach in walk­a­ble precincts – new de­vel­op­ments are tar­get­ing mil­len­nial in­vestors with “smart” fea­tures that make a smart city. Think charg­ing sta­tions for elec­tric cars, precinct-wide Wi-Fi and fi­bre to the home, sig­nif­i­cantly en­hanced 24-hour se­cu­rity, and as­sis­tance in your home for a range of emer­gen­cies – at the push of a but­ton. This is the fu­ture of de­vel­op­ment.


“Mil­len­ni­als ex­pect to cre­ate a bet­ter fu­ture, us­ing the col­lab­o­ra­tive power of dig­i­tal tech­nol­ogy,” says so­cial com­men­ta­tor Mal Fletcher.

“Tech­nol­ogy is an in­te­gral ac­com­pa­ni­ment to new ur­ban­ism, as it holds the de­sir­able char­ac­ter­is­tics of walk­a­ble precincts, where res­i­den­tial and of­fice space are com­bined with gyms, ho­tels, and a wide va­ri­ety of up­mar­ket cock­tail bars and restau­rants,” Ni­cholas Stop­forth, Man­ag­ing Direc­tor of Amdec Prop­erty De­vel­op­ment, ex­plains.

In­creas­ingly, peo­ple want to live, work and play in the same place – a place where they can eas­ily and safely walk to their of­fice, home, res­tau­rant or an­other amenity. This con­cept is a mixed-use precinct. When com­bined with the lat­est in tech­nol­ogy, it be­comes a smart city.

And while a smart city has all the lat­est tech­no­log­i­cal se­cu­rity and life­style ben­e­fits, these are de­signed into the de­vel­op­ment so are largely un­seen. You won’t find high-rise tower blocks with un­sightly satel­lite dishes adorn­ing the façade. In­stead, imag­ine build­ings that offer green de­sign, green spa­ces, and pedes­tri­anised roads, yet harken back to a feel of tra­di­tional, com­mu­nal vil­lage life where all your daily needs are within walk­ing dis­tance. It might sound con­tra­dic­tory, but it’s not.

Stop­forth ex­plains that new de­vel­op­ments must offer a range of fea­tures to suit the ever-chang­ing trends and de­mands of mod­ern liv­ing. De­vel­op­ers need to ex­pand the range of fea­tures that come with this com­mu­nity-driven life­style to in­clude precinct-wide wire­less in­ter­net, the lat­est in ac­cess con­trol, panic but­tons, as well as med­i­cal and se­cu­rity as­sis­tance

on in­stant standby. The Mel­rose Arch precinct even has li­cense plate recog­ni­tion, to en­sure in­creased se­cu­rity for res­i­dents and busi­nesses.

Amdec Prop­erty De­vel­op­ments is the group be­hind South Africa’s best prac­tice in mixed-use precinct de­sign, in­clud­ing Mel­rose Arch, which is the fastest sell­ing large-scale de­vel­op­ment in the coun­try with sales and reser­va­tions top­ping R1 bil­lion since its launch in Oc­to­ber 2017.

The planned R10 bil­lion Har­bour Arch on Cape Town’s fore­shore, due to open in Au­gust 2019, is mod­elled on the global trend for walk­a­ble precincts such as Dar­ling Har­bour in Syd­ney and Ca­nary Wharf in Lon­don.


As proof of the de­sir­abil­ity of smart cities, Mel­rose Arch’s lat­est res­i­den­tial de­vel­op­ment, One on White­ley, is al­ready 75 % sold out. Res­i­dents will ben­e­fit from all the precinct’s so­phis­ti­cated tech­nol­ogy sys­tems, in­clud­ing fi­bre in­ter­net, backup gen­er­a­tors, li­cense plate recog­ni­tion, elec­tric car charg­ing sta­tions, and re­cy­cling fa­cil­i­ties.

But more than just fo­cussing on tech­nol­ogy, smart cities are fo­cused on sus­tain­abil­ity. And in South Africa, these mixed-use, new ur­ban­ist precincts are cer­tainly driv­ing the sus­tain­abil­ity trend. The world over, de­vel­op­ers are un­der pres­sure to dras­ti­cally min­imise water us­age and in­cor­po­rate eco-friendly tech­nolo­gies that will ben­e­fit the planet in the longterm. For ex­am­ple, Amdec’s green build­ing ini­tia­tives in­clude refuse re­cy­cling, wa­ter­sav­ing de­vices, low-en­ergy LED light­ing, and rain­wa­ter har­vest­ing.

These will be core fea­tures of the Har­bour Arch precinct. With water scarcity be­ing the new nor­mal for Cape Town, the de­vel­op­ers were re­quired to im­ple­ment water-wise strate­gies from the ground up. This has re­sulted in a shift to­wards water-con­scious de­sign and plan­ning – like rain­wa­ter and grey­wa­ter har­vest­ing, dual-flush plumb­ing sys­tems, and water stor­age fa­cil­i­ties. The com­pany will also be in­ves­ti­gat­ing the vi­a­bil­ity of in­stalling an on-site de­sali­na­tion plant to take ad­van­tage of the abun­dant ground water avail­able in the fore­shore area.

“There is huge ben­e­fit in ex­e­cut­ing water-sav­ing measures at the con­struc­tion stage, rather than retro-fit­ting. Not only is it bet­ter to have sys­tems in place at the start, but it saves money in the long run,” Stop­forth says. “Ul­ti­mately, we need to re­duce our im­pact. A smart de­vel­op­ment needs to be smart about sus­tain­ing our fu­ture.”

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