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Forward planning in cities’ design

 

The Cape Town city skyline is about to change. The long-awaited Harbour Arch development has finally been given the green light, with construction set to commence early in September on the newest, slickest, mixed-use precinct to hit the tip of Africa.

Just as the V&A Waterfront transformed an under-utilised area of Cape Town Harbour, this glittering new development aims to makeover the “Nowhere Land” around the unfinished elevated highway on the foreshore. “It’s an eyesore that has become an unfortunate landmark. A sobering reminder of what a lack of vision can mean for an urban space. Fortunately, the construction of the Amdec Group’s Harbour Arch development at the gateway to the CBD means that this part of the foreshore will no longer be viewed as a wasteland of missed opportunity,” says James Wilson, CEO of Amdec Group.

Harbour Arch will breathe life into an uninspiring site and bring a sense of community to the city. Pushing the boundaries of design and architecture, the innovative high-rise development aims to become a landmark and attraction in its own right, putting us on the map alongside similar developments in other big cities like New York, London, Sydney and Dubai.

Inspired by New York, Made in Cape Town

Harbour Arch takes its inspiration from the benchmark of Hudson Yards in New York. The 12-year Hudson Yards project saw the first phase opening in March last year, and it has already become a tourist attraction. This urban regeneration development is being built on platforms over a working railyard. It will eventually offer nearly 11ha of residential, retail, office and public green space, a performing arts centre and even a school.

Following this example, Amdec has devised a multi-phased project designed to bring growth to the city. The 5.8hectare Harbour Arch will turn under-utilised land in a good location into a vibrant, dynamic new area for living, playing and working. Being built using international best practice in design and construction, it will eventually comprise six individual tower blocks with fantastic views, housing retail stores, offices, restaurants, health clubs, two Marriott International hotels and 2,000 residential units.

A strong community focus aims to enhance quality of life for all Capetonians, as well as to attract visitors. Public pedestrian routes and transportation systems through the area will link the CBD to the V&A, the east city precinct and eventually Woodstock. A landscaped and well-lit urban green space will offer gathering places, markets, bike tracks, climbing walls, and skateboarding and splash parks, creating a secure, appealing and child-friendly neighbourhood for a diverse range of communities.

According to Wilson, the urban village will be “a vibrant, 24-hour precinct that offers Capetonians the opportunity to safely live, work and play in an iconic landmark setting”.

A focus on sustainability into the future

Again, emulating the tech-forward Hudson Yards, sustainability is an important part of Amdec’s  vision, as it is at the Group’s other developments, The Yacht Club and Melrose Arch.  The innovative solutions include recycling and energy saving technologies such as using natural light and low-energy lighting, harnessing wind power from the southeaster and implementing water-wise systems, with future plans for a desalination plant.

Balancing the city divide

Harbour Arch is conveniently positioned at a convergence in major access roads, including the N1 and N2. The flexibility of the development also allows the municipality to revisit its vision for the foreshore by potentially relocating the freeway either below ground or on grade. This will extend the city’s footprint and reconnect the shoreline to the inner city, with the potential in time to link all the way through to Woodstock.

Adding value all round

Contributing to the sustained economic growth of the city is important to the Amdec Group. The Harbour Arch project brings R15 billion in private investment into the Cape Town CBD, with a further R100 million expected to be spent on much-needed infrastructure upgrades for the city. The construction phase alone will create 20,000 jobs, with many more on completion, especially in the retail, tourism and hospitality sectors. There is also an opportunity to include 100 affordable housing units on site, while profits from the development will help to fund a much larger affordable housing project in Ottery too, benefiting several levels of society.

An investment to be proud of

The world-class level of quality and innovation and the current trend towards mixed-use developments makes buying property in Harbour Arch an extremely attractive proposition for savvy investors. The first tower is already 95% sold out and the second tower will be launching shortly. Building during the downturn in the economy has proved to be a smart move and, as the economy begins to turn around, the project will be ready for more investors and purchasers.

Encapsulating the principles of urban living in a safe, convenient and desirable environment, and reconnecting the city and its communities, Harbour Arch is a neighbourhood for the future and undoubtedly good for Cape Town.

This article was first published by Concrete Trends on the 17 November 2020. 

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