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.
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.”
Richard Gevers is the Founder of Open Cities Lab, a civic technology lab with a focus on the development of open data for application to urban challenges operating within cities in Africa. We explore many projects they are involved in, overcoming the general ‘fear of data’, how to improve public-private sector collaboration on Open Data, and how cities may change over the next 5 years.Play Now
Juanita Clark is the Chief Executive Officer of the Digital Council Africa. We explore the rebranding of the FTTX Africa Council to the Digital Council Africa, draft rapid deployment policy, benefits of good local municipal internet connectivity, challenges and opportunities to get stakeholders on the same page, legislation she would change if she had a magic wand, the future of education and work and her vision of future cities.Play Now
Jonathan Wilson is the Urban Data Project Manager at the South African Cities Network (SACN). We discuss the SACN Smart Cities paper series, the importance of open data for cities; siloed operations, and how to solve challenges to urban data management, Common Data Framework for Cities, open data projects in South Africa, cities in 2040, and the decline of urbanisation.Play Now
Kayla Hanna Brown is Project Manager for Built Environment at South African Cities Network. We explore the impacts of the pandemic on the built environment, how different Cities responded, fast tracking spatial transformation, technology and innovation, and main lessons taken from 2020.Play Now
Bob van Bebber is a Director at Boogertman + Partners Architects and overall winner of the 2019 SA Professional Services Awards. We explore his background; challenges and solutions for businesses, the built environment and cities; legislation he would change if he had a magic wand; his definition of a ‘Smart City’; how to make cities more inclusive; his hope for future cities and words of encouragement.Play Now