Disruption through urban design at Oxford Parks

Disruption through urban design at Oxford Parks

Pedestrians are heroes – or at least they should be

In recent decades, Johannesburg’s central business district has declined as corporates relocated their operations to growing commercial centres such as Sandton, Rosebank and Waterfall City to the north. Here, headquarters buildings adorned with corporate livery dominate the landscape, largely catering exclusively for the people working inside. Multi-storey car parks rise from ground level, building access is tightly controlled and retail amenities are hidden inside monumental shopping malls. Cars are the heroes and pedestrians are limited to strips of pavement between road and building line.

While Rosebank’s traditional centre is more pedestrian-friendly, the same typology exists in some newer developments around the core.

However, the new Oxford Parks precinct has been conceived to disrupt that typology.

In 2015, the Dunkeld Design Manual was developed to harness the strengths of Rosebank’s more walkable urban realm. Designed to adhere to the manual’s urban design principles, the Oxford Parks precinct will create a seamless walkable link from Rosebank that extends the existing pedestrian corridor and creates connections with neighbouring business nodes.

To date, seven buildings have been completed in and adjacent to the precinct. Future phases will add to the district over time. The architecture reflects the commitment to human-scale design, featuring mid-rise buildings, striking facades and active street frontages. The buildings have been designed with retail amenities at ground level and street-access to building entrances to facilitate pedestrian activity. Public walkways, green landscaping and outdoor furniture activate the spaces between buildings. Super basements under each city block reduce vehicle activity at street level, retaining the pedestrian-friendly quality of the development and bringing people to the heart of the urban centre.

Photography: Sean Gibson