For more than 25 years I have been closely involved in the conceptualisation, design, construction and management of indoor and outdoor entertainment, retail, urban and landscape developments with some of the Cape’s leading private and commercial institutional developers and their consultants.
These include projects such as:
- Monex Developments Tygervalley Centre from its initial development through to Phase 4 extensions;
- Rabie Properties residential developments such as Dolphin Beach, Strand Golf Course and many others;
- Metropolitan Life, Sanlam and Old Mutual Properties commercial and office park developments
- V&A waterfront development
- Monex’s Century City, the largest mixed used development in the Cape where I worked closely with Martin Wragge, Monex Design and an extended professional team to design and build Century Cities core structure including the environmental wetlands of Intaka Island, the Century City Canal water recycling and drainage system, Ratanga Junction Theme Park and Canal Walk Shopping Centre.
In all of these developments I was able, in retrospect, to observe the effects of “good” versus “bad” location, structure and configuration design decisions: e.g. the effect of the larger scale developments to dramatically alter the structure of the city and its urban balance, large developments like Tygervalley “killed” the retail “high streets “of Bellville and Durbanville for many years.
With the success of the development came a rapid increase in property values and those with foresight or luck positioned smaller developments clustered round this new major attractor and caused an escalation in car based traffic problems and segregation of pedestrian, public and private transport and the massive increase in roads and freeways, contributed to further urban sprawl.
The resulting agglomeration of building enclaves each with its own segregated “private” footprint results in spatially simplistic tree structure and a complete lack of the urban quality that is so prized in the older European cities we love to visit and walk around in.
Even larger scale “Mega-attractor” developments such as Century City strove to become complete “”cities” in themselves in order to control the entire property cycle so that the prime lands along the N1 would be held open till last when property values will have multiplied many times over and the return on investment would be commensurate with the large investment in money (Billions) and time (15 -20 years.)
None of these developments have ever fully delivered the promised lifestyle for its “most valued guests“ (ex-consumers), who are in reality its most important partners, nor realised the values that they set out to achieve for its investors.
It is seems obvious now that these cathedrals of late 20th Century consumerism are the new centres of the ‘urbs that surround them but that are functionally disconnected from them by virtue of roads, massive car parks or garages, security systems and owners policies and possibly an outdated vision of how the future of our urban environments might perform the task of “sustainably” catering for the diverse and heterogeneous needs of the urban masses as well as their investor elites.
In order to better understand and study this phenomenon and its problems, I have spent two years in study at the University of Cape Town where in my Masters Thesis “The City Experienced: The Choreography of the Urban Landscape” I have developed an approach through research and investigation of and Integral Design Method which can be used to approach the problems of segregated and unsuitable development and once again integrate the entertainment, retail, urban and landscape environment to create cities which are individually worth living in and enjoying, while at the same time being sustainable, culturally, socially, environmentally and economically for all their inhabitants.
This Urban Choreography and its Integral Design Method is what I am able to provide developers and owners of both existing and new developments with which to produce the space of the 21st Century.
I am currently doing research for a PhD in “Integral Urban Dynamics and Modeling of Complex Urban Environments” at the Urban Observatory, African Centre for Cities at the University of Cape Town, in order to develop practical applications and models of the concepts and methods which will make this framework operable in the design of interventions in Urban environments.
ENHANCED SPACE (ENVIROMENT) = ENHANCED VALUE
Donovan Gillman HND Hort; MLA (UCT)