MAINSTREAMING SUSTAINABILITY IN PUBLIC SPACE: FORMULATING ENERGY STRATEGIES THROUGH URBAN DESIGN IN GABORONE, BOTSWANA
PUSO, Thabang Tumo
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As cities embrace climate change adaptation and mitigation, it has become critical to address energy issues in public spaces in the quest to achieve sustainable urban development. However, sustainability projects in the built environment primarily utilise “techno-fixes” and often neglect the placemaking and socio-economic benefits of responsible energy consumption. Energy strategies are treated as an afterthought that comes as a retrofit in the design of the public realm (Ozgun, 2020). Urban design is defined as the art of making better places for people and public life. It involves a thought process of arranging spaces and infrastructure in the built environment to create functional places for human activity (Abd Elrahman & Asaad, 2020). This study asserts that sustainable communities do not come about accidentally but are thoughtfully created. The current trend in the design of public spaces by built environment experts in Botswana undervalues the usefulness and ability of energy to improve the sustainability of these places. However, if seen as a self-organising state where people congregate to interact and gain knowledge from their environment, the public realm provides a powerful ground to shape and direct society towards a sustainable energy lifestyle (Ozgun, 2020). Through urban design interventions, this study proposes a design framework to rethink energy strategies in the public realm, that address environmental issues relating to renewable energy transition; economic issues relating to cost saving; social issues relating to a vibrant lifestyle; and placemaking issues relating to functionality and aesthetics.