Aamena Desai is a senior urban designer in Arup's Cities team in Johannesburg. We chat about key African projects Arup is involved in, how Covid-19 is impacting projects and clients, lessons from African cities from international projects, technologies that will move cities forward, rapid urbanisation, her worst Covid-19 nightmare, African cities' biggest challenge, positive outlooks and her vision for future cities.
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Key African projects Arup is involved in
Is this the end of rapid urbanisation?
Covid-19 impact on projects and clients
Lessons from international projects
Technologies that will move cities forward
Aamena’s vision for future cities.
The biggest challenge for African cities
Positive outlooks for future city stakeholders
About Aamena and Arup
Aamena is a senior urban designer in Arup’s Cities team in Johannesburg. She grew up in Durban and studied and worked in design studios in Cape Town, before joining Arup in 2015. She has worked on multi-disciplinary Arup projects across Africa, centered on improving urban quality of life in developing world cities. She completed her Masters in Urban Design from the University of Cape Town in 2014, and graduated in Architecture in 2006, from UKZN.
Aamena’s work has evolved from technical design in its early stages to include, more strategic planning, research focusing on the future of cities, and urban design strategies, that consider the spatial, economic, governance, and institutional structures of cities towards delivering impactful and implementable urban infrastructure projects.
“Arup’s first office opened in South Africa in 1954 by Jack Zunz and Michael Lewis. Since then, we have continued to showcase our expertise in design, planning, and execution in the built environment across Africa; whilst upholding our commitment to developing sustainable communities. Our African Cities research ties in with on-the-ground urbanisation projects, enabling us to offer total design solutions. These include integrated building design, transport, and logistics planning; large infrastructure; property solutions; and energy strategies.
Our South African teams work closely with other Arup teams worldwide, giving clients access to the full range of our global skills and experience. We deliver global knowledge, locally.
Shaping the city: Since Arup opened its Johannesburg office doors in 1954, our consulting engineering teams have shaped the iconic Jo’burg skyline with projects like the Telkom Tower. We’ve contributed to the growth of our region through our conceptual design, master planning and project management of large buildings, infrastructure, and transport projects.
Innovative design: We remain at the forefront of innovation, using the latest software and technology such as virtual reality coordination on Twinsaver’s state of the art manufacturing plant. Our market-leading parametric capability enabled projects like the twisting PwC Tower and the geometrically intricate façade of The MARC in Sandton.
Trusted advisor: Our teams have been instrumental in developing policies that provide the framework for property development around public transport interchanges including the Tshwane precinct and becoming the Independent Certifier for Gautrain, South Africa's first rapid rail system.”
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