Liberty Promenade was purchased by Liberty Properties in 2004. The existing development consisted of a number of separate buildings on a 22.9 hectare site bounded by AZ Berman Drive to the east and Morgenster road to the north, with the railway line forming the western boundary.
The existing shopping centre had a GLA of 44000sqm on a single level with open surface parking. The peripheral buildings consisted of medical suites, a training centre, and a few stand-alone fast food drive-through outlets, adding an additional 6000sqm GLA to the original precinct.
The client’s brief was to add 25 000sqm to the existing centre, with the aim of making Liberty Promenade the largest shopping centre in a previously disadvantaged area in the country, at over 75 000sqm. The expansion included enlarged stores for a number of existing National tenants, a new food court and entertainment section that includes cinemas, a bowling alley, fast food outlets and restaurants.
In addition to the retail area increase, the client proposed the complete upgrade to the existing air-conditioning and electrical systems, to bring the centre on par with other properties in the Liberty portfolio. However, the practicality of upgrading the building services required a complete replacement of the existing mall ceilings.
+ THE DESIGN CONCEPT
Vivid Architects saw the opportunity to completely re-image the centre as the extensions to the envelope of the existing building made a complete building facade upgrade possible.
A contemporary design aesthetic has been used, with clean lines and attention to key areas such as entrances and external canopy structures over public walkways. It is a vast improvement on the art deco theme of the existing building.
The existing lead-in malls were lengthened and expressed with new entrance features, skylights and porte cochere structures. These clearly identify the entry points from the external parking area and from the main vehicular road (AZ Berman Drive). Additional shops that face onto the parking were also included and a continuous canopy has been added along the main elevation to provide a pedestrian-friendly edge and weather protection between entrances. A total parking upgrade has been completed that includes new lighting, landscaping and paving.
Additional refuse areas, stand-by generator rooms, new AC chilled water plant rooms and other support building facilities have been added.
Although the existing mall had a large food court, Liberty Properties decided to relocate and enlarge the food court offering. This was enhanced by the inclusion of an eight screen cinema complex and entertainment component.
The new food court provides a new heart to the centre with a large promotions court, and extensive public seating where volume and natural light has been maximised. The position of the food court provides an additional entry to the centre with extra parking on an underutilised area of the site bordered by the railway line. This new parking area provides safe and secure parking with convenient access to the food court, particularly during the evening trading hours.
The new food court is of a contemporary design, using a combination of natural materials and high quality contemporary finishes. Extensive natural light is introduced via centrally positioned skylights culminating in the large central skylight and articulated ceiling at over 14m in height. Shading over the seating area is created with the use of steel’ tree like’ structures that introduce a counterpoint to the overall scale and volume of the space.
The food court is anchored by an eight screen Ster Kinekor cinema on one side and an entertainment centre on the other. National food brands line the mall either side of the central concession area.
In addition to the extension of the existing centre, Liberty Properties’ brief was to upgrade and, in many instances, replace the existing HVAC and electrical systems in order to bring the building in line with similar properties in the Liberty portfolio. However, as the majority of the existing mall ceiling would have to be demolished to gain access to the existing systems and to replace with new equipment, Vivid Architects proposed a completely new mall ceiling design.
A significant increase in ceiling height was possible within the existing structural constraints. The existing ceiling was very low with bulkheads at 2.4m above the floor level. After analysing the structure and co-ordinating the new service run locations and zones, considerable height was achieved in the new ceiling design that has had a major impact on the overall feel of the mall. A new lighting design has further enhanced the high quality feel of the new mall areas.
The existing centre had an irregular shopfront line with varying mall widths as well as disparate tenant shopfront designs. Vivid Architects rationalised the shopfront line and gained considerable rentable area justifying the complete replacement of the existing shopfronts. The existing very low shopfronts, some as low at 2.2m, were replaced with shopfronts with a height in excess of 3.8m. The colour and profile of the new shopfronts were kept consistent and signage positions and sizes of tenant signs were rigidly controlled to ensure that there was a clean, refined and consistent overall image to the new mall areas.
Large format porcelain tiles laid in a contemporary pattern were installed throughout the mall. New directory boards, information kiosk, bench seating and bins were designed to complement the overall aesthetic. The result has been the creation of a contemporary, sophisticated, aspirational retail centre, equivalent to the best malls in the country.
+ About Vivid Architects
Vivid Architects was founded in 1998 by Paolo Viotti and Trevor Versfeld. Imraan Ho-Yee joined the practice as a partner in 2000.
Vivid Architects is an established award winning medium sized design practice that concentrates predominately on medium to large scale commercial developments both locally and internationally. The practice also enjoys a good reputation in designing selected up market private residential homes.
Vivid Architects takes great pride in providing an holistic and comprehensive professional service delivering appropriate and cost effective architectural solutions within the strict parameters of client brief, economic realities, programme and budget.
Vivid Architects believes firmly in the ethic and importance of a team based philosophy throughout the design and implementation process and encourages close collaboration of all the disciplines involved. The practices focuses on encouraging transparent and open communication within the studio as a way of actively ensuring the successful transfer of the skills base that is constantly being researched and developed.
Vivid Architects adheres to a design philosophy that expresses in its architecture an appropriate response to site, context and first principles of passive design as well as appropriate technology and material specification. The resultant form is an architecture that is timeless, elegant and well proportioned. Human scale and comfort for the end user is also an essential design informant.