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Highway Housing

Part 2 Project 1999
Ryan & Trevor Burkett & Hardy
Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University Port Elizabeth South Africa
Our Problem:
In many urban waterfronts, city planners have carelessly placed highways near the waters edge, forming a spatial boundary between the city and its harbour and alienating the city from the birth of its existence.

Port Elizabeth suffers from this very 'ailment'. The dynamism and excitement of the harbour is not experienced by the general public and it has become a mass of underutilized train tracks, cranes and other industrial amenities. This disintegration has been intensified by the opening of 'Coega', a new industrial port, which will see the migration of all industrial activity across the bay.

The recent degeneration of the city centre and shift of value away from the central core has perpetuated an ultimately unsustainable quality of life and any notion of a community within the centre has all but disappeared.

Our Solution:
By breaking down the highway barrier our aim is to create a permeable activity spine which will revitalize the CBD/harbour connection with actitvity and light moving freely between. Following the re-location of the harbour's industrial works, waterfront development nodes will be established and the magic of the harbour city reborn.

By using the highway structures as a means to achieve this end we aim to actively engage the social and economic context of our urban setting and redefine the aspirations of our city.

Ryan & Trevor Burkett & Hardy

The underlying theme of the project ‘Integrated Mid-rise Housing in the CBD’ calls for a solution that actively engages the social and economic context of its urban setting; in short, a design that redefines the aspirations of our city.

The project challenged students to propose urban development schemes integrating mid-rise housing within an existing urban infrastructure. Mixed-use potential and the socio-economic and physical needs of our resident population were to be addressed. Depending on the site selected the design could comprise of a combination of open space, reconstruction / rehabilitation of existing buildings, and new construction. The most successful solution was one that integrated transportation and circulation networks in a manner that facilitated social interaction as well as addressing the issues of orientation and security.

In developing the design, Ryan and Trevor specifically addressed the following issues:
 Responded to the socio-economic and physical needs of a high-density resident population;
 Integrated, augmented and reinforced the existing urban infrastructure to provide a sense of community;
 Gave attention to site-specific uses, such as climate, urban context and cultural responsiveness in the selection of materials and construction techniques;
 Created affordable, modern dwelling space with a human scale, compositional unity and contextual connection to the surrounding environment;
 Dealt with the issue of sustainability, both in appropriate building practices and selection of building materials.

The students tackled a very relevant and problematic part of Port Elizabeth and came up with a highly imaginative and integrated solution.

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