Articles Posted in the Lifestyle category

Trendy organic shopping at the BluBird market

October 29, 2010
Posted in Lifestyle

The past couple of years have seen a boom in the number of organic markets in Johannesburg, from the long running Bryanston Organic Market to the relatively new Jozi Food Market, which we wrote about some time back.

This past weekend we headed out north, to the BluBird Wholefood market in Birnam, to take a look at what this market had to offer.

The food market is held at the trendy new BluBird shopping centre which is just off Corlett Drive and down the road from Wanderers cricket ground.

The food market is held every Sunday morning from 9am to 2pm and has a range of foods available from fresh breads to home-cured biltong and cheeses to pates, spices and olive oils. There’s Thai food, Indian spices, samoosas and croissants, all gathered together under the architectural eves.

Although relatively small there is still a wide enough selection of foods in offer at the market to make it worth a trip on Sunday morning. It’s perfect if you’re looking for something for a light Sunday lunch.

Our personal haul this time around included a couple of loaves of bread (including a fantastic rye loaf), a jar of sweet pate, a bag of biltong which was finished before we left the market, and some haloumi cheese.

The BluBird centre is unashamedly upmarket and you’ll have to mingle with the well-heeled enjoying Sunday breakfast, but for the food it’s worth at least one trip.

Two ‘climate friendly’ urban developments for Gauteng

May 21, 2009
Posted in Green News

Artist's impression of the Menlyn Maine 'green' precinct to be built in Pretoria

Artist's impression of the Menlyn Maine 'green' precinct to be built in Pretoria

Two large-scale development projects in Gauteng – one in Johannesburg, one in Pretoria – are part of an international initiative to show that cities can grow in ways that are “climate positive”.

Anyone who drives between Joburg and Pretoria regularly could be forgiven for assuming that someone has decided that no clod of earth should be left unpaved between the two cities. News that moves are afoot to set “compelling environmental and economic examples” among all that concrete comes as something of a relief.

The two “climate positive” projects are Zonk’izizwe, a new town centre which will be situated between Gallagher Estate and Grand Central Airport in Midrand, and Menlyn Maine, which is described as a “mixed-used precinct” in the eastern suburbs of Waterkloof Glen Ext 2 and Menlyn Ext 3, Pretoria.

The projects are among the 16 founding projects of the Climate Positive Development Programme that will strive to reduce the amount of on-site carbon dioxide emissions to below zero and set an example for sustainable urban growth. The global initiative was announced this week by Bill Clinton, the former US president, at a four-day summit to discuss cities and climate change in Seoul, South Korea. The programme is a collaborative effort of the Clinton Climate Initiative and the US Green Building Council.

“As the Earth’s population increases and our cities grow, we need to ensure we have the models in place to sustain our way of life in an increasingly urbanised world,” Clinton said at the launch.

To reduce the greenhouse gas emissions of these projects to below zero, property developers and local governments will agree to look at implementing innovations in building; generating clean energy; waste management; water management; transport; and outdoor lighting systems.

Last year, for the first time, half the world’s population (3.2-billion people) lived in cities, and that figure is expected to grow to 70 percent by 2050. Cities occupy just 2 percent of the world’s landmass, yet are responsible for more than two-thirds of global energy use and greenhouse gas emissions. How cities change and grow is a critical component to tackling the climate crisis.


Artist's impression of Menlyn Maine's high-density residential space. The buildings will have energy and water efficiency systems as well as being connected to a fibreoptic network

Artist's impression of Menlyn Maine's high-density residential space. The buildings will have energy and water efficiency systems and will be connected to a fibreoptic network

The developers describe Menlyn Maine as South Africa’s first “green living precinct”. Built on 135,000 m2 of land, it will have offices, shops, restaurants, hotels, residences and entertainment facilities all within easy walking distance of one another to promote living, working and playing in a centralised area.

It is designed around ease of accessibility, says Anton van Wyk, managing director of Menlyn Maine Investment Holdings. “It removes useless hours spent in traffic, which makes more sense from an environmental perspective, and results in happier and more productive employees and customers.”

The development is also close to the new Gautrain rapid rail link between Pretoria and Johannesburg.

To bring some scenery and a breath of fresh air, parklands will run through the middle of the development, in all 5 700m² will be devoted to indigenous landscaping, say the developers.

The buildings will comply with the Green Star Rating System recently launched by South Africa’s Green Building Council. This means they will incorporate energy efficient systems, locally produced or recycled building products, and water saving appliances (such as low-flush loos), water-efficient irrigation systems and stormwater harvesting.

An added attraction is that Menlyn Maine will have an internal fibreoptic network link to every building in the precinct.

Construction has begun and the first commercial sites are due for completion in late 2010.


The Zonk’izizwe (which means “all nations”) project is part of a high-density, mixed-use development planned around the new Gautrain station in Midrand, to the east of the N1 Ben Schoeman highway. (see map)

The 220-hectare development will be a new town centre between Johannesburg and Pretoria and will include a lake, parks, outdoor shopping, a hotel, museums, an aquarium, themed-adventure experiences, a nightlife village, multiplex cinemas as well as residential, office and retail space.

Sustainable development and “green” architecture feature prominently in the Zonk’izizwe design, with innovations like bio-water recycling/purification and solar power energy contributions, energy efficient strategies and a conservation ethic, says the Development Design Group Inc, the US-based planning, architecture and design group, on its website.

The development also aims to minimise its environmental impact by reducing vehicle-use. Buildings will have access to public transport, bicycle paths, the lake and be within walking distance of basic services.

Joburg wins award for Xtreme Park project

November 13, 2008
Posted in Green News

Johannesburg City Parks’ innovative Xtreme Park project, which turns barren patches of land in the city’s townships into community parks in just 24 hours, has won an international award, reports Bua News.

Earlier this year, the Xtreme Park Makeover 2008 project turned a piece of land that had been a dumping ground for rubbish in Soweto’s Diepkloof informal settlement into a place where children could play and the community could enjoy the outdoors. The project was inspired by the Extreme Makeover TV series.

“We build parks within 24 hours that are equipped with basketball courts, mini-soccer pitches, fountains, big-screen televisions, fencing, paved walkways and ablution facilities,” Luther Williamson, the MD of City Parks, told Bua News. “The parks are about two hectares in size and cost R4.6 million each to build”.

City Parks has built two of these parks, one in the Diepkloof informal settlement and the other in Weltevreden Park in Randburg.

City Parks won a Gold Award in the Natural Projects Category of the United Nations-endorsed International Liveable Communities Awards 2008.