A Tribute to
Weather & Glass
Bentel Associates International
Too cold? Close the roof. Too hot? Open it. Sounds like the sunroof of a car but it isn't. It's the new Clearwater Shopping Centre, on the
border of Little Falls (Stubensvallei), that is due to open in November 2004. At last, shoppers can look forward to a retail mall that celebrates the glorious Highveld weather.
'A highly innovative design,' is how Rob Bray describes it. Bray is a director of Bentel Associates International, and design architect for the Clearwater project. Long established as one of the premier authorities on shopping center design, Bray and Bentel Associates International are once again breaking new ground- literally and figuratively.
The bold new design for Clearwater incorporates an indoor/outdoor theme that for the first time pays proper attention to the fact that we have one of the best climates in the world.
At the center of the triangular design is an oval atrium some 60m across, covered by a retractable roof. In inclement weather this can be closed but expectation is that it will remain open most of the time, allowing shoppers to feel as if they are in an open-air retail space. At least 30 percent of the overhead structure is static glass, so even when the roof is closed, light will not be an issue.
The park-like center, complete with trees, grass and even the occasional bull-bull, will access onto a wide choice of open-air restaurants and coffee shops. Pick 'n Pay, Edgars and Woolworths are the three main anchors, augmented by a variety of main street boutiques and specialty shops. Already, approximately 70 percent of the 65,000sq m shopping complex has been let.
The entertainment component is situated on the roof, along with 1000 parking bays allowing for direct shopping access down through the atrium. This will shorten access distances and provide unusual traffic flows in through the middle of the complex. Additional parking at ground level will service the anchors, always a necessity for trolley access.
In keeping with the tribute to outdoors, a predominance of stone and natural materials will be used and because the ceilings are 6-meters high, higher than normal, the 4-meter shop fronts made of glass will enhance the feeling of airiness. The main entrance incorporates a street market with pavement restaurants.
With main arterials, Hendrik Potgieter and Cristiaan De Wet, and the enhancement of a sophisticated new overpass, Clearwater will be easily accessible. Landscaped berms to provide privacy screens for local residents are also contemplated as an integral part of the development.
Attfund Ltd, the developers of Clearwater, saw a need to provide the upwardly mobile residents of this area with a retail environment better suited to their burgeoning lifestyle. 'The demands and purchasing power of this sector of the population are changing fast,' says Bray.
Clearwater will offer the kind of merchandize they want, entertainment and a leisure time environment to suit many different tastes.' Playgrounds for the toddlers, roller-blading for the teens, Sunday brunch in the park for families, at Clearwater there will be something for everyone.