URB have unveiled plans to develop Africa’s largest sustainable city known as THE PARKS, will provide the world’s highest standard for sustainable living for 150,000 residents. The city will also produce 100% of its energy, water & food on site to become a self-sufficient destination. THE PARKS is a 1,700 hectare smart city, planned for the eastern region of South Africa promoting a net zero lifestyle.

The development provides various mixed use hubs such as residential, medical, tourism, entertainment, retail & education. 40,000 residential units are distributed in 12 residential districts. The economy of the city will be automated & digital with majority of jobs in green tech. More than 40,000 jobs will be created in the short and long term during the planning, construction & operation of the city.

Image © URBImage © URB

The city will thus become a benchmark of economically viable sustainable living and a positive contribution to the green economic growth of the country. The housing typologies within each district will cater for all income levels, with no segregation. This will enable a truly inclusive & diverse workforce to flourish & increase community cohesion. Additional sustainability initiatives include the use of intelligent solutions and a smart grid system to transform THE PARKS into the smartest city on earth.

Local urban food production will provide 100% of resident caloric intake whilst also reducing food miles associated with carbon emissions from transport. The city will be provide the highest standards of sustainability in planning, construction & operation. Multifunctional holistic solutions are integrated into the planning to address all the three key pillars of sustainability; social, economic and environmental.

Image © URB

The aim is to create a zero carbon smart city that takes a balanced approach between these three pillars. Key planning principles at the early stages was one of the key drivers of creating THE PARKS. Basic design decisions such as orientation, density and form provided the biggest environmental gains, yet these required the least financial investment. Thus at the early stages of the project we were able to reduce a large amount of energy demand with little cost.

A sustainability brief was created for the project with targets and initiatives, which was divided into categories to create a unique sustainability DNA. Some of these categories included water, energy, food, waste, mobility, building materials, health & wellbeing, pollution, ecology, green & blue infrastructure etc.. The integration of all these sustainability elements into the design at the early stages helped to achieve the highest level of social, environmental and economic sustainability.

Image © URB

The project was further optimised using various tools, methods and analysis such as energy modelling, microclimate analysis, solar radiation analysis, daylight simulations/ analysis and glare control, water efficiency, water recycling, life cycle costing analysis, waste management and waste recycling analysis, sustainable landscaping and urban drainage analysis. The city will also produce 100% of its drinking water on-site (solar powered air-to-water generators) as well as recycling 100% of its water for irrigation.

All waste in the city will become a resource. The city will also adopt a comprehensive zero waste strategy, which will be supported through community awareness programs. Waste separation at source and collection of all types of wastes will help in creating a more efficient waste recycling loop. All shopping outlets will primarily promote the use of zero packaging solutions, whilst biodegradable packaging material will provide an alternative green solution. The city will also ban the use of single-use plastics.

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Biogas production from organic waste will also provide an additional source of energy. Cooking oil from restaurants & kitchen will be recycled into Bio diesel and used as fuel in construction for future expansions and phases of the development. Waste minimization in construction and operational phases of the development will also be aligned with recycling programs. 3D construction printing technology will make part of the construction processes which will also minimize waste & increase efficiencies.

To improve food security the development takes advantage of the latest innovations in food production such as climate controlled indoor vertical farming, beehives with remote surveillance, sustainable poultry & dairy farming, aquaponics for protein production, productive landscapes & bio saline agriculture. Source by URB.

Master planLocation: Eastern region of South AfricaArchitect: URBResidents: 150,000Residential units: 40,000Area: 17 KM2Cost: $20 Billion USDYear: 2022Images: Courtesy of URB

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