Shopping in Soweto

New shopping mall gets celebrity opening

by James Forryan 05 November 2009
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    This 65,000 sq m centre was developed and financed by Zenprop Property Holdings, Investec and Richard Maponya, whose vision it was to create the centre. Realisation of Soweto’s massive buying power and future potential is what lies behind the creation of this up market, aspirational shopping mall in Soweto. The mall hosts the foremost retailers in South Africa, bringing a mix of products that have not been seen before in the Soweto retail market.

    The design intent was to introduce an architectural language without any direct reference to an identifiable historical style, thus providing a fresh aesthetic approach as an honest response to the social and cultural significance of what is essentially the first building of its magnitude and type in the area. The sculptural expression of forms, developed as the culmination of the design intent, resulted in very sophisticated and complex organic forms – which proved exceedingly challenging in their execution. The focal points to the mall, i.e. the food court and entrances, naturally enjoyed the bulk of flamboyant organic architectural expression and as such proved to be the most challenging.

    Conceptually the food court was developed as a dynamic sweeping form, an abstract metaphor to elephant tusks reminiscent of the Maponya family emblem. The structural and geometric culmination necessary to convey the integrity of this form as well as ensuring enough natural light for the court, resulted in a very specific design solution.

    The geometric resolution to these organic forms was immensely complex – with the result that every design change had to be reflected in the 3D model in order to understand it’s physical impact. Customised details were meticulously and painstakingly reworked to conform to the sculptural form during the evolution of the 'clapping hands' from simply an interesting form to a functioning piece of architecture.

    The mall was officially opened by former president Nelson Mandela

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