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Cape Town to get ‘green’ office tower

first_img16 August 2011The Cape Town city skyline will soon feature a stunning new addition in the form of the impressive Portside Building – a four green-star rated skyscraper being built as a joint initiative between FirstRand Bank and Old Mutual.Designed jointly by DHK and Louis Carol Architects, the new Portside Building comprises a full city block between Buitengracht, Hans Strydom, Bree and Mechau streets, and capitalises on the stunning views of Table Mountain and the Atlantic Ocean while complementing the beauty of the city.The project will have office space of over 52 000m² as well as 1 200m² of banking and retail area with easy access from all sides on the ground level.When completed in March 2014, it will become the provincial headquarters for the three divisions of FirstRand Bank, namely First National Bank, Rand Merchant Bank and Wesbank. It will also have a general office component that will be leased out.Promoting Cape Town’s reputationSpeaking at the ground-breaking ceremony last week, Western Cape Premier Helen Zille lauded the two companies for their investment and commitment to economic growth in the Western Cape.“The new Portside Building in Cape Town will help promote the city’s reputation as a thriving financial hub and we are hopeful that it will serve as a catalyst for similar buildings to be added to the city’s skyline in the future,” she said.“The building will also complement our government’s Cape Town Central Regeneration Programme, which aims to transform the central city into a thriving centre of productivity, connectivity, innovation, social cohesion and environmental sustainability.”Speaking at the ground breaking ceremony of the construction of the building, FirstRand CEO Sizwe Nxasana explained that the banking group considered Portside to be far more than merely another city building.“Our investment in Portside is an extension of our continued commitment to investing in the development of the city and region, providing sustainable economic stimulus and creating much-needed jobs in line with [the] government’s employment development and social upliftment agenda.”Environmental and social impactAccording to Old Mutual Properties’ Ben Kodisang, the visual, environmental and social impact of Portside was key to the entire design process. “Not only did the design of Portside need to enable Old Mutual and FirstRand to have two distinct business addresses in the city,” he said.Its location in a Central City Urban Conservation Area also meant it needed to be highly sensitive to the historical and environmental character of its surroundings.To this end, the architects were required to take into account both the current and potential future development of the city around the site of the new building and ensure that Portside will be able to create the necessary synergies with other buildings in the area.Four green-star rating – an African firstAll stakeholders agreed, from the outset, that environmental sustainability was a vital component in this design approach. Stephan Claassen, Provincial Head of FNB explained that Portside is likely to be the first high rise building in Africa to have a four green-star rating.“We intend making Portside a benchmark of environmental sustainability in terms of both construction and building management processes, and have worked closely with the architects to ensure that it serves to raise the standards of green design,” he said.This includes indoor environmental quality, and the reduction of energy, water consumption, waste production and management production and negative carbon emissions for tall buildings.Kodisang confirmed this commitment and explained that the incorporation of these green building principles would be closely monitored and evaluated to ensure that Portside conforms with the City of Cape Town’s green building standards and achieves the desired four green star rating.Both Claassen and Kodisang expressed their gratitude to the City of Cape Town for its support and assistance in making this vision a reality. “Without the close partnership of the City of Cape Town, FirstRand and Old Mutual would never have reached this historic point in realising our vision for the Portside building,” said Kodisang.“We are immensely grateful for the encouragement and assistance the council has provided to us.”SAinfo reporterWould you like to use this article in your publication or on your website? See: Using SAinfo materiallast_img read more

Sustainable human settlements and improved quality of household life

first_imgNATIONAL DEVELOPMENT PLAN OUTCOME 8In 2030, the terrible spatial legacy of apartheid has finally been broken. South Africans have humane and environmentally sustainable living and working conditions. Their homes have all the basic services they need and are closer to their workplaces, to which they travel in safe public transport.•  Overview•  Document downloads•  Quality basic education•  Health care for all•  Safety & freedom from fear•  Economy & employment•  A skilled workforce•  Economic infrastructure•  Vibrant rural communities•  Sustainable human settlements•  Accountable local government•  Natural environment•  South Africa in the world•  Efficient public service•  Inclusive social protection•  Nation building, social cohesion Human settlements – DownloadsFind out more about the National Development Plan.• National Development Plan – full text• National Development Plan – Chapter 8: Transforming human settlement and the national space economy• Medium-Term Strategic Framework 2014 to 2019 – Outcome 8: Sustainable human settlements and improved quality of household life• Infographic: Transforming human settlement and the national space economyHuman settlements – The visionThe National Development Plan’s vision is that, in 2030, human settlements in South Africa have been transformed into equitable and efficient spaces with citizens living in close proximity to work with access to social facilities and necessary infrastructure.Apartheid spatial patterns have been broken, with significant advances made towards retrofitting existing settlements offering the majority of South Africans access to adequate housing and affordable services in better living environments. The homebuyers’ market is more equitable and functional.By 2030:• South Africa has a strong and efficient spatial planning system, well integrated across the spheres of government.• All informal settlements have been upgraded and are positioned on suitable, well-located land.• More people live closer to their places of work.• Public transport is of good quality.• There are more jobs in or close to dense, urban townships.Human settlements – The challengesApartheid planning consigned the majority of South Africans to places far away from work, where services could not be sustained, and where it was difficult to access the benefits of society and participate in the economy.A great deal of progress has been made since 1994, but South Africa is far from achieving the Reconstruction and Development Programme goals of “breaking down apartheid geography through land reform, more compact cities, decent public transport and the development of industries and services that use local resources and/or meet local needs”.Despite reforms to the planning system, colonial and apartheid legacies still structure space across different scales.Many people still live in poverty traps, including the former homelands, where less than 30% of adults are employed – compared to 55% in the cities). One in two households depends on social grants or remittances, compared with one in six in cities.Logistics and communication lines are long because of sheer scale, making infrastructure maintenance difficult and movement of goods and people costly.Over two decades into democracy, towns and cities remain fragmented, imposing high costs on households and the economy. The housing market’s enormous price cliffs act as barriers for most black South Africans to progress up the property ladder. New, subsidised settlements have created homes for nearly 4-million households, but are often too far from economic opportunities.Human settlements – Action requiredThere is an urgent need for an urban development strategy to make urban spaces liveable, equitable, sustained, resilient and efficient – able to support economic growth and social cohesion.The National Development Plan mandates a series of interconnected interventions required to address economic solutions, institutional reforms, change to land management systems and infrastructure investment.Apartheid spatial patterns must be broken, replaced with a more coherent and inclusive approach to development and urban planning. The fractured housing market requires significant reform.Specific action includes:• Reforms to the current planning system for improved coordination.• Develop a strategy for densification of cities and resource allocation to promote better located housing and settlements.• Substantial investment to ensure safe, reliable and affordable public transport.• Introduce spatial development framework and norms, including improving the balance between location of jobs and people.• Conduct a comprehensive review of the grant and subsidy regime for housing with a view to ensure diversity in product and finance options that would allow for more household choice and greater spatial mix and flexibility. This should include a focused strategy on the housing gap market, involving banks, subsidies and employer housing schemes.• National spatial restructuring fund, integrating currently defused funding.• Establish a national observatory for spatial data and analysis.• Provide incentives for citizen activity for local planning and development of spatial compacts.• Introduce mechanisms that would make land markets work more effectively for the poor and support rural and urban livelihoods.Human settlements – Key medium-term goals for 2019South Africa’s Medium Term Strategic Framework (2014 to 2019) identifies the following sub-outcomes achieve sustainable human settlements and improved quality of household life.• Adequate housing and improved quality living environments• A functionally equitable residential property market• Enhanced institutional capability for effective coordination of spatial investment decisionsHuman settlements – Key medium-term targets for 2019South Africa’s Medium Term Strategic Framework (2014 to 2019) identifies the following targets to achieve sustainable human settlements and improved quality of household life.GRAPHIC: MARY ALEXANDERResearched, edited and compiled by Mary AlexanderUpdated December 2015last_img read more

TPP prospects grim

first_imgShare Facebook Twitter Google + LinkedIn Pinterest Potential for passage of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) in the “lame duck” session of Congress all but came to a halt last week when Donald Trump was elected president of the United States in an upset over Hillary Clinton. Throughout his campaign, Trump has been an outspoken opponent of the 12-country deal, which includes the United States, Australia, Brunei Darussalam, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore and Vietnam.“I think the TPP is dead, and there will be blood all over the floor if somebody tries to move that through the Congress anytime soon,” Trump confidant Sen. Jeff Sessions, R-Ala., told reporters.Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., echoed Sessions’ statement.“It’s certainly not going to get brought up this year,” he said.Still, there is hope for TPP in other parts of the world. Japan’s lower house of Parliament this week passed the TPP. Japan’s upper house has to give final approval, which could happen later this month. Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is scheduled to meet with Trump this week. President Obama will be meeting with leaders from the 11 other TPP countries at the annual summit of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum in Peru this week.last_img read more

Quebec party leaders head to Gatineau to survey tornadodamaged areas

first_imgMONTREAL – Quebec’s political party leaders set their political differences aside on Saturday as they headed to Gatineau, Que., to survey the damage from a tornado that ripped through homes and sent several people to hospital on Friday night.On Day 31 of the election campaign, Liberal Leader Philippe Couillard, the Coalition Avenir Quebec’s Francois Legault, Parti Quebecois Leader Jean-Francois Lisee and Quebec solidaire co-spokesperson Manon Masse all cancelled scheduled activities to meet those affected by the storm.Couillard and Lisee could been seen walking side-by-side as they toured a neighbourhood in Gatineau alongside Mayor Maxime Pedneaud-Jobin and a number of other officials.The two leaders passed by ripped-off roofs, chunks of insulation and flattened cars as they surveyed one of the worst-hit streets in the Mont-Blanc neighbourhood, before meeting with tornado victims at a local school.“It’s like life just stopped,” Couillard said as he looked at a roofless house, with furniture still visible intact in the living room.“It’s a miracle people got out of there alive.”Couillard, the current premier, announced $1 million in emergency aid would be handed over to the Red Cross to help victims who couldn’t return to their homes.“What we announced this morning is for Gatineau but also for the rural areas around the city,” he said.“It’s to help people, through the Red Cross, to meet their daily needs for several weeks and even more, if needed.”Lisee, for his part, said he was relieved nobody had been killed.“As the premier said, it’s extraordinary that there was no loss of life,” he said. “We’re fortunate in our misfortune, but we have to support these people, who come from modest means and have lost everything.”Legault said Saturday morning that he was keeping a scheduled meeting with a group of mayors north of Montreal but had cancelled an afternoon appearance to head to Gatineau.Speaking north of Montreal in Ste-Anne-des-Plaines, he said it wasn’t a day to play politics.“I think it’s important that all the parties show their solidarity, support the premier and reassure the population, because there are people who have lost a lot materially and will need to be reimbursed if they’re not insured,” he said.Legault said the Quebec government would be there to help the victims, no matter who was elected, and encouraged people to donate to help recovery efforts.Legault and Masse also set partisan politics aside as they jointly met with tornado victims and spoke with Gatineau’s mayor.“In Quebec, we help each other, we hold each other up and take care of each other; it’s what we’ve always done,” Masse wrote on Twitter earlier in the day.For the most part, the leaders ditched the official trappings of their campaigns as they expressed solidarity for the victims.Couillard announced Friday night that he would suspend his campaign and leave his electoral bus behind in order to visit storm-damaged areas in his role as premier.Legault also said he would travel to Gatineau in a private vehicle, while Lisee said he was acting as head of Quebec’s official Opposition for the day.Both Lisee and Couillard were expected to head back to Montreal at the end of the day in order to restart their campaigns.— With files from Melanie Marquis, Stephanie Marin and Mylene Crete in Gatineau, Que.Note to readers: This is a corrected version. An earlier version incorrectly said both of Quebec solidaire’s co-spokespeople were in Gatineau.last_img read more