Eastgate 2010 - A Fresh Approach to the Traditional Mall

For the first time in its 30 year history, Eastgate Shopping Centre's new outdoor lifestyle extension offers patrons an opportunity to experience our wonderful climate. The extension includes an open-air piazza surrounded by restaurants on the existing roof, as well as new food court and additional retail space and parking.

Designed by MDS Architecture and built by Grinaker-LTA, the new lifestyle component has increased the landmark centre's gross lettable area by 12 000 m2.

Sean Pearce, the partner leading the project at MDS Architecture, says that the design is contemporary and experiential. Liberty Property Group, who own Eastgate Shopping Centre, wanted a fresh design to create a new outdoor attraction for the popular centre.

Open air piazza

Eastgate customers now have a fine dining area that spills onto the rooftop piazza and a striking triple-storey glass atrium in stark contrast to the old out-dated structure. "The piazza is open and boasts earthy finishes such as stone and timber, neutral palettes and glass, which provides not only natural light but evokes openness and transparency," says Pearce. 

The piazza also features fever trees planted up in berms and a mosaic river that meanders through the piazza designed by local artist Clive van den Berg. "The mosaic river is called reflections and tells the story of a flowing river, with reflections of the night sky and of animals drinking from the river."

The finishes at Eastgate's new lifestyle extension will include stacking doors to ensure that shoppers can celebrate the outdoor space. The abundance of glass is complimented by references to contemporary, understated African design. Timber louvers are included in the design and slatted pergolas cover the seating area.

The outdoor piazza links to the cinemas and new fashion retail section through Entrance 9, with escalators and glass lifts providing views into the new food court. 

Glass eyeball 

A new triple-volume 'glass eyeball' visually connects the existing upper mall and new food court, as well as projecting out of the old existing façade, creating a strong and dynamic contrast. "Whereas shopping centres have tended to be internalised spaces, the glass structure turns the centre inside out, as it were, providing a view of the new food court inside and restaurants beyond to the piazza," says Pearce.

From the inside, the food court is washed with natural light from the glass curtain wall, high ceiling and clerestory windows. Rubbed down off-shutter concrete pillars and brightly coloured chairs give the space a contemporary look, whilst a floating ceiling draws your eye upwards to whimsical wooden birds that look as if they are flying right through the space.

The birds, also by Van den Berg, serve to bring natural elements indoors and this concept is reinforced through the use of timber tile flooring, organic tiling patterns in neutral shades and tubular lighting designed to emulate reeds. The wooden slats from the piazza are continued into the food court, where they are painted fresh white to tie in with the clean lines of the food court.

A suspension bridge adjoining Entrance 9 and the food court allows shoppers to experience the triple volume space first-hand, whilst a glass revolving door on the lower level allows in even more natural light.


As the addition is on a section of the old rooftop parking, the design team needed to reinforce the existing roof structure and ensure that materials were lightweight. Concrete and brickwork has been restricted and lightweight walling and roofs utilised, as well as steel frameworks with in-fill panels. Everite's new-technology external boarding was selected as the product that would meet the weight constraints. It was then finished in a new textured Plascon waterproof plaster, Terraco, presenting the least amount of visible joints.

"Obviously it was a challenge to knock out existing plant rooms, service-related items and essentially create a hole in the existing roof structure," comments Pearce, "We created a new raised floor level over the existing roof, which required us to go into all the stores directly below to fit steel plates to the existing beams."

According to John McLaughlin, contracts director at Grinaker-LTA Building Inland, demolishing the roof and installing it at a higher level was one of the biggest construction challenges. "Casting the upper level slabs over the glass 'eye', and demolishing and re-building the new lift shafts to meet the target completion date of this entrance (five), were also huge challenges from a construction point of view," he adds, noting that the 'eye' skylight is the main feature of this phase of Grinaker-LTA's work at Eastgate, and its casting was very complex in design and execution. "We cast the beams and slab and supported the formwork over an existing structure with no backpropping, and an external specialist was contracted to design the steel I-beam support to carry all the wet loads imposed. The removal of the old lifts and the creation of bigger lifts over the existing food courts was a particularly testing portion of the contract, mainly because it took place over an operational shopping mall."

"Keeping noise and dust pollution to a minimum was a priority, and the demolition work took place early mornings," he adds. 

Eastgate's new lifestyle extension is set to give further longevity to the shopping centre, which is somewhat of a landmark in the area. Pearce concludes: "It has been exciting to see the project unfold and to see what was previously an internalised shopping centre being opened up to the outside."


Client - Liberty Properties
Architects - MDS Architecture
Main Contractor - Grinaker LTA
Project Managers - Henrey Mokala Projects
Civil & Structural Engineers - Aki Consulting
Electrical Engineers - CKR / NALA
Mechanical Engineers - Dientsenere TSA Maego / Spoormaker & Partners JV
Consulting Geotechnical Engineers - Crossman Pape & Associates
Quantity Surveyors - MLC / Nonku Ntshona & Associates
Town Planners - Brian Grey & Associates
Traffic Consultant - Arup Transport Planning
Fire Consultants - Specialised Fire Technology

MDS Architecture is an award-winning practice that has designed buildings that attract the business, the people and the activity that lead to a sustained performance. With a proud reputation spanning 50 years, the practice is renowned for its skill in the sectors of hospitality and leisure, retail developments, offices, residential buildings and interiors. For more information on MDS Architecture, visit http://www.mdsarch.co.za

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