Urban Tides

Riding the waves to Oceans Mall Umhlanga

When the Oceans Mall project was initiated, the goal was to create more than just a mall. The developers, Oceans Umhlanga, saw the opportunity for a functional and beneficial expansion, and renowned firm Elphick Proome Architecture, who would go on to win a SAPOA 2023 Property Development Award for Mixed-Use Development, proved to be the perfect team for the job. As part of a mixed-use development, the build not only needed to consider its fellow builds, but also those who would inhabit and visit them, calling for a multi-faceted design process.

The mammoth mall covers 28 000 m² on a site spanning more than 200 000 m² in KwaZulu-Natal. Located between Ridge Road and Lagoon Drive, the centre occupies an excellent location at the entry to the ‘village’ of Umhlanga. Benefitting from prime exposure and significant frontages onto these roads, a link is created between access points and communities through a conscious effort to integrate the mall into the urban environment.

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Local Integration

The fully integrated mixed-use scheme and highly active edges are indicators of this dedication to connecting the space to the surrounding context and local conditions, rejecting the typical solid, rectangular box structure traditionally built over the past 25 years. An added plinth is comprised of two retail and four parking levels, and three freestanding towers stand above it: the hotel, hotel apartments, and two residential towers. The development connects with Lagoon Drive through the use of restaurants and terraces for outdoor seating, with the piazza generating a new, inviting public space in the village. The team made sure that the views to the North and West were respected and the importance of the land and sea breezes acknowledged; the site would benefit from sunshine and daylight throughout the day, and the effects of the building’s shadows could be minimised.

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Emulating the ocean

In response to the precinct’s namesake, the architectural treatment and interiors respond with soft flowing curvilinear movements. The lines of the shopfronts, the tiling, and the feature ceiling recesses all combine to create soft flowing, organic forms and surfaces reminiscent of the ebb and flow of the tides. This, along with the fresh white palette and spacious layout, make the interior a symbol of the vastness and clarity of the ocean. Outside, the façades also look to the sea for inspiration, emulating the blues and whites of the majestic water and the multiple layers and levels of the ocean’s reefs. To incorporate a green building approach, the HVAC installation system consists of a high efficiency centrifugal and screw type water-cooled plant. The combination of this type of plant provides one of the best coefficients of performance, resulting in low running costs. Optimising efficiency further, the plant and its processes are controlled by a computerised building management system. With careful consideration for internal and external function, visuals, and responsibility to the community, Elphick Proome Architecture went beyond expectation in designing a place that truly embodies the potential of mixed-use space.

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