Urban Design

Urban design has always been fundamental to dhk’s approach. dhk is experienced at working from the scale of the city to smaller town and precinct developments and the company has a longstanding reputation for its considered approach to creating successful integration strategies for buildings in urban spaces.

The Head of Urban Design is Director Guy Briggs, who has led the team since 2012. His wealth of experience provides invaluable expertise and input into the success of dhk’s work. The urban design studio undertakes a wide range of projects, as well as providing strategic input into many architecture projects, in particular through Guy’s role in dhk’s internal design review board.

The work tackled in the urban design studio includes masterplanning, urban design frameworks, regeneration and renewal projects, development strategies, development policy, and design guidelines. The team has completed projects throughout South Africa, with significant projects in Cape Town, Port Elizabeth, Johannesburg and Pretoria;as well as further afield in Ghana, Angola, Nigeria, Kenya and Mozambique.

Significant previous projects include the Eikestad Urban Renewal project in Stellenbosch and the Baywest precinct masterplan in Port Elizabeth. Current projects include a number of high profile, large scale urban developments, such as a 25ha masterplan for a new town centre in Accra, Ghana; and a detailed masterplanning project for a new 300ha city at Modderfontein, in greater Johannesburg. The Fabrik Masterplan for the urban renewal of two city blocks in Pretoria’s CBD has already completed its first phase, the renovation and restoration of the Fabrik Sheds, and is now home to a vibrant fortnightly community market that has enlivened the area.

Team

Director Guy Briggs heads up the urban design studio, and is supported by a specialised team that includes urban designers, architects, and landscape architects. He joined dhk in 2012, bringing with him a wealth of experience in the field. He was previously based in London, UK for twelve years, where he specialised in urban regeneration, development strategy, and master planning.

Guy sits on the dhk Design Review Board with principles Derick Henstra and Peter Fehrsen, and Managing Director of the architecture studio, Renske Haller, which reviews all of dhk’s architectural projects on a weekly basis. Externally he currently sits on the steering committee of the Urban Design Institute of South Africa (UDISA), is an Academician of the Academy of Urbanism (UK), a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts (UK), and a member of the V&A Waterfront Design review committee.

Approach

dhk’s approach to urban design is characterised by a process of collaboration and interaction between the urban designer and the client for each project. This is essential in order to deliver a result that satisfies all requirements and aspirations. Workshops are facilitated where ideas are exchanged and clients can provide input in order to improve and develop designs.

A successful urban design project should also integrate diverse opinions and a wide range of different disciplines. dhk’s work is characterised by an understanding of the socio-economic dynamics and integral parts that define a ‘place’ and give it identity, backed by research and tested through practice. This integrated approach extends to the complementary relationship between the urban design and architecture studios, which collaborate extensively in order to share skills and expertise. Sustainability is integral to dhk’s approach to urban design – we believe that it is impossible to deliver good urban design that is not also sustainable.

Lastly, dhk believes that projects must be as deliverable as they are visionary. The team’s abundance of experience has generated a sound understanding of the dynamics of urban regeneration, property development, community aspirations, political expediencies, planning and legal processes, human resource capacities, ecological processes and environmental imperatives. dhk recognises the need for a framework to create opportunities for the public sector (or other major stakeholders) in order to lead and inspire by example, while also setting firm parameters for development that include flexibility to change over time.

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