Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Cape Town shortlisted 2014 World Design Capital

The Mother City has passed through the straits of waiting to be included in the final round of this worldwide urban design competition. We are competing directly with the cities of Dublin and Bilbao for the title that will be announced in October in Taipei.

While we’re basking in our success, let’s also remember that now is when the real work begins.We have a bid book detailing the reasons why the ICSID team (those from the International Council of Societies of Industrial Design, who judge the World Design Capital bid) chose to come to Cape Town, but it will take the combined energy of everyone involved in design to convince the delegates that we are worthy of the title. While the future is waiting, history is watching. To echo the sentiment of Bulelwa Makalima-Ngewana,MD of Cape Town Partnership, winning the award – and the world’s recognition of how far we’ve come and how we’re using design to uplift the lives of everyone in the city – will be a really, really wonderful way to celebrate two decades of democracy. 2014 marks this anniversary.

If you’re curious about Cape Town Partnership’s role as curatorof this momentous exercise, follow the earlier Creative Cape Town stories tracing the steps of the bid process.


Cape Town top international destination, Tripadvisor Travelers' Choice 2011


Tuesday, June 14, 2011

PR is the second most stressful job

The Huffington Post: We don't need April to be labelled Stress Awareness Month to know how stressful the American workplace can be. And with fears of a double dip recession only adding top of the usual demand of performing your job at a high level, it's worse now than ever.

A recent survey conducted by CareerCast asked respondents to rank 200 different jobs based on the level of stress. To quantify workplace anxiety, the survey asked respondents to rate eleven stress factors found in the workplace: outlook/growth potential, travel, deadlines, working in the public eye, competitiveness, physical demands, environmental conditions, hazards encountered, own life at risk, life of another at risk and meeting the public.

What they found was that stress can show itself in a number of ways. For real estate agents, it's the unusual hours, while the responsibility of caring for others, as in occupations like emergency medical technicians and airline pilots, can foster more palpable stress. Among newscasters and corporate executives, instead, it's the expectations of the job that induces performance anxiety.

Here are the top ten most stressful jobs according to CareerCast.


Thursday, June 2, 2011

A new slant on student accommodation

Forward-thinking developer John Schooling of STAG is reinventing the term "student digs" with the introduction of STAG Student Lodge, an innovative, hi-tech design for student accommodation that is smart, chic and affordable—and very cool and very 21st century.

There's a reason why "student digs" conjures visions of crowded apartments with mattresses on the floor and skanky kitchens, and it's not just because students lack domestic skills. The main reason is because the country is short of more than 100 000 student "beds". Statistically, this means that each year more than 15% of the student population struggle to find accommodation.

STAG CEO John Schooling says the solution to the problem required thinking beyond traditional bricks and mortar—a building method STAG has been involved in for more than 24 years. "Generally, in South Africa, we have seen bricks and mortar as OK, that it's upmarket and and anything else is downmarket. But if we look internationally, traditional building methods are not the norm."

John points out that Australia has been using light-weight steel structure construction technology for more than 70 years: South Africa's building regulators only recognised it as acceptable two years ago. Stag plans to utilise this technology to help address the student accommodation shortage.

"To build 100 000 rooms with bricks and mortar will cost anything between R32-billion to R62-billion," says John. In 2008, STAG designed a traditional, upmarket student "residence" for a local university, and they did it for R272 000 per bed—dramatically lower than any other building costs. But, as STAG discovered, this was still too expensive and that's when they began to explore new technology.

STAG wanted a 21st century solution to the problem. "We had to establish ground rules," explains John. "First, there would be no compromise on quality. It could be different and alternative but it had to be top quality and environmentally sympathetic.It needed the correct thermal qualities, sound proofing and to conform to fire regulations. We also strongly believed that a student, whether in Stellenbosch or Mpumalanga, deserves a quality student experience."

The outcome was STAG Student Lodge, using innovative, hi-tech, cost-effective design technology. STAG took the proposal to the University of Stellenbosch and it was agreed that they could build a prototype. "What we had looked for was a high-quality environmentally friendly, cost-and-time effective approach. We did this by optimising two things: first, architectural design. We moved the student to the centre of the design process and asked what does he or she need to have a quality learning experience? Second, we had to focus on the materials we used as well as the design—it needed to be cool. And, finally, we had to optimise an alternative product through product innovation."

On 1 March, they started construction in Stellenbosch. The other extreme advantage of modular light-weight steel structure technology is the speed with which a building can be constructed. John estimates that the three-storey, 30 bedroom STAG Student Lodge at Stellenbosch took eight weeks from start to finish, whereas traditional methods take more than eight months. "We needed a solution that solves the problem now," he says.

John stresses that the technology is "not a cheap solution—it's a time-and-cost effective solution, based on student needs". The end results, though, are designer smart, hi-tech, innovative student digs with an energy efficient, minimal carbon footprint.