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Huge expansion, refurbishment at Sandton City

Sandton City Shopping Centre is undergoing a major refurbishment and expansion, with funding of R1,77bn approved for the first phase.
Huge expansion, refurbishment at Sandton City

The project is already under way with demolition nearly complete and construction on the extension due to start soon. It is scheduled for completion by late 2011.

Phase one includes the refurbishment of the existing centre and the addition of 30000m² of new retail space. The entire retail space, including the extension, rounds off at 131000m², while the entire complex, including offices, will measure a huge 205000m²

Liberty Properties chief operating officer Caswell Rampheri said the revamp was the first phase of a broader vision for the repositioning of the centre by developers Liberty Property Development, who manage the project for the owners, Liberty Group (75%) and Pareto Limited (25%).

“Sandton City has always had a strong international connection and the design of the new extension and the refurbishment of the existing centre will combine international standards with contemporary architectural expressions which reflect our unique South African heritage, through the use of space, light, colour, form and materials,” Rampheri says.

“We have called upon the best international and local design talent available to enable our plans and our vision,” he adds.

Founded on Sandton City's position as a national and international retail icon and the premier shopping centre in Africa, Liberty Properties appointed the London branch of RTKL — an international award- winning practice of architects, planners, engineers and design consultants — as the repositioning concept designers for the complex.

RTKL specialises in providing its multidisciplinary services across the full development cycle to create places of distinction and designs of lasting value.

The concept for the extension and refurbishment of Sandton City is being developed in association with the South African-based MDS Architecture and MMA Architects. GHC Africa Projects is the project manager and principal agent.

Rampheri says the brief to the design team was to reposition Sandton City in line with the changing face of its surrounding area, consumer requirements, retailer demand and international design trends, all intended to retain its position as the country's premier retail and social destination while at the same time creating an enduring asset for SA and its owners.

MDS Architecture has assigned two senior partners to work seamlessly on each of the project's major elements. Patrick Henry is overseeing the refurbishment and Tia Kanakakis is responsible for the extension.

Kanakakis says that one of the key objectives of the extension is to optimise customer flows. This will be achieved with the creation of a “continuous loop mall” connecting the existing mall on both shopping levels to the new mall to create a complete circuit between Woolworths and Edgars.

“This will make it so much easier to get around and enhance the overall shopping experience,” she says.

“This means the new extension will be effortlessly connected to the existing mall and be a welcome improvement for shoppers.”

A new volume entrance court will have an entrance point from Rivonia Road to Sandton City. The new entrance will also provide a “street address” for the centre, creating a connection point for the increasing number of pedestrians — especially in light of the new Gautrain station on the adjacent city block.

A new external piazza will be positioned at the entrance and will feature a mix of alfresco restaurant and coffee shop seating.

From the new entrance, shoppers will find themselves on a cantilevered feature suspended in the 24m high entrance court, perched above the lower shopping level and offering upward views into the huge volume.

Views from the entrance to the outdoors and along the new loop to Woolworths on one side and Edgars on the other will be achieved through the use of natural light, glass and other luminous materials, which will enhance the sense of expanded space.

An innovative African-first application of a new, two-micron-thick eco friendly, 100% recyclable, transparent material is being considered to cover the roof, offering complete protection from the elements while allowing light in from both the sun and moon.

“This will enable sight of the outdoors, within the comfort of the indoors,” says Kanakakis. She says the roof-covering material has the second-lowest energy co-efficient in the world.

In achieving energy efficiency, the north and western ends of the extension of the new entrance will have solid walls to facilitate sun and heat control measures.

Initially the extension will look different from the rest of Sandton City from the outside. However, future phases of the development provide for the existing exteriors of the centre to be refurbished to match the new extension.

“The extension reflects Liberty Properties' commitment to the environment, with green principles supporting the project at all stages, from donating material salvaged from the demolition to worthy causes or recycling it, to green building design and materials for the extension, and even retrofitting the existing mall where viable,” says Rampheri.

New ceilings throughout the mall are expected to reflect the aesthetic of extension, with dark panels replaced by crisp white ceilings and suspended light fittings providing ample light.

New floor and wall tiling will also be introduced. Contemporary recladding of balustrades and demising columns will complement the overall theme and character of the new visual design.

The plan for further phases of this huge project includes the construction of a new office tower of about 65 storeys on the existing complex footprint.

A residential component is also being planned, thereby further enhancing the Sandton City mixed use offering.

The realignment of the mall connecting the Southern Sun hotel to the centre will also form part of the vision for future phases of the project.

Source: Business Day

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