Reimagine Urbanism Conference

Dates: 29 - 31 March 2016


Where: Tshwane

Venue: Freedom Park

Conveners: Urban Design Institute Of South Africa (UDISA)

Urban Design Delivering Benefits to Investors

Urban Design, as defined by the Urban Design Institute Of South Africa (UDISA) is both a specialised and an integrating profession. The unique focus of Urban Design lies in the understanding of three-dimensional form and space in cities and settlements, and the relationship of this form to land, context, society and history.

The art of Urban Design, then, lies in shaping the interaction between people and places, environment and urban form, nature and built fabric and influencing processes that lead to the development of successful cities, towns and villages.

The benefits of Urban Design cannot be underestimated given the consequences of neglecting good Urban Design practices which can be seen in many cities across the African continent. Though the focus is often on the value that Urban Design provides to society and the integration of people, places and spaces, there are a great deal of economic benefits that can be experienced as well.

Investment Benefits of Urban Design

The value of Urban Design as researched by the Commission for Architecture and the Built Environment by means of literature, research reviews and case studies of commercial developments, can be highlighted as adding economic value by:

  • Producing high returns on investments (good rental returns and enhanced capital values)
  • Placing developments above local competition at little cost
  • Responding to occupier demand
  • Helping to deliver more lettable area (higher densities)
  • Reducing management, maintenance, energy and security costs
  • Contributing to more contented and productive workforces
  • Supporting the ‘life giving’ mixed-use elements in developments
  • Creating an urban regeneration and place marketing dividend
  • Differentiating places and raising their prestige
  • Opening up investment opportunities, raising confidence in development opportunities and attracting grant monies
  • Reducing the cost to the public purse of rectifying Urban Design mistakes.

Any good design adds social and environmental value by:

  • Creating well connected, inclusive and accessible new places
  • Delivering mixed-use environments with a broad range of facilities and amenities available to all
  • Delivering development sensitive to its context
  • Enhancing the sense of safety and security within and beyond developments
  • Returning inaccessible or run down areas and amenities to beneficial public use
  • Boosting civic pride and enhancing civic image
  • Creating more energy efficient and less polluting development
  • Revitalizing urban heritage.

In a nutshell, the research highlighted how Urban Design adds value by increasing the economic viability of development and by delivering social and environmental benefits.

Beneficiaries of Urban Design include:

  • Investors through favourable returns on their investments and through satisfying occupier demand, although the full pay-off may not be immediate.
  • Developers benefit by attracting investors and pre-lets more easily and hence from enhanced company image. If they retain a stake in their developments for long enough, they also benefit from good returns on their investments.
  • Designers benefit because good Urban Design is crucially dependent on their input.
  • Occupiers benefit from the better performance, loyalty, health and satisfaction of their employees and from the increased prestige that well-designed developments command with guests and clients.
  • Everyday users and society as a whole benefit from the economic advantages of successful regeneration, including new and retained jobs, and also through access to a better quality environment and an enhanced range of amenities and facilities.
  • Public authorities benefit by meeting their obligation to deliver a well-designed, economically and socially viable environment and often by ripple effects to adjoining areas.

Realising Greater Value

While the research identified economic, social and environmental benefits flowing from good Urban Design, it also identified barriers to delivery, particularly those inherent in established patterns of investment and development.

UDISA seeks to unpack these and other issues by presenting the ‘Re-Imagine Urbanism Conference 2016’. This conference will be held from the 29th to the 31st of March 2016 at the iconic Freedom Park venue, where industry professionals from across the African continent and globe will come together for a meeting of minds.

Event contact:

Image via UDISA

Read older posts from this section

Leave a Reply