Worldwide, mixed-use developments have become a popular choice in urban planning across major cities. The African continent has followed suit with various mixed-used developments completed over the past years in major urban centres.
We look at the key influences and social trends behind the success of these modern projects.
Mixed-use development refers to the practice of having more than one form of activity or usage (residential, hotels, office space, retail, open space) in the same building complex or estate development. The Harvard School of Design defines mixed-use spaces as having at least three uses in the same building.
Mixed-use developments are not particularly new or uncommon in Ghana or Nigeria, particularly in informal settings, where multiple floor units are an active hub for commercial activity on the ground floor with living quarters at the top.
Several years ago, an article published on africanurbanism.net on the topic of approaches to mixed-use spaces cited Accra’s Kaneshie Market and Abossey Okai as thriving mixed-use areas.
Things have vastly progressed since then, and the latest mixed-use developments bring a breath of fresh air and much needed modern flair to bustling cities like Accra.
The global real estate industry has identified common factors and social trends that make mixed-used developments strong city contenders.
Changes in key social trends and cultural preferences. Today’s city dwellers are using building spaces in different ways to address a more inclusive ‘live, work and play’ lifestyle.
True to the sharing economy principles, younger generations opt for centrally located smaller and private living spaces, as long as there is access to shared amenities and public spaces.
Access to connectivity and high-end technology. High-speed connectivity and networking appeal in shared spaces has become a major influence in building developments.
Commercial and residential projects where people can meet either intentionally or by chance in common spaces and use the latest technology are increasingly popular.
New collaborative ways of working. Co-working spaces and mixed residential and office spaces are a direct result of the global shift in working environments.
Open plan office setups that foster collaboration and face-to-face interaction in this era of rapidly evolving technology have curbed the demand for closed-in cubicles and individual offices.
However, the biggest influencing factor in the popularity of mixed-use buildings certainly remains the mass migration of people from small towns and villages to inner cities, specifically in Africa, Asia, and South America.
The trend is noticeably strong in countries like South Africa (Johannesburg, Pretoria), Ghana (Accra), and Nigeria (Lagos, Abuja).
In conclusion, mixed-use property developers should understand cultural and lifestyle needs and provide residents with a practical mix of spaces catering to their growing requirements.
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