Middelburg Mall Features Thoughtful Architecture

The new Middelburg Mall opened in April 2012, on time and on budget and with a breath of fresh air in terms of shopping mall design.

Designed by MDS Architecture for developers Flanagan & Gerard and the Moolman Group, the design concept of Middelburg Mall suggests mining and farming elements that are typical of the area.

The Mall offers 43 000 m2 of GLA on a single level and has potential for further expansion. It offers 94 shops that are anchored by retail giants Checkers, Woolworths, Edgars, Pick n Pay and Game. Over half a million shoppers visited Middelburg Mall within the first three weeks of opening - a convincing indicator of the potential ongoing success of the mall.

The mall’s location, off the busy N4 highway with access from both the Fontein Street offramp and Tswelopele Avenue, makes it easily accessible to N4-road users and a wide catchment area.

Sean Pearce, a partner at MDS Architecture and lead partner on this project, says that an important consideration in the design was the honesty of materials used. “We emphasised the various materials and exposed structural elements of the building for interest,” he says.

An external hub for public transport was developed within the precinct of the mall to attract more visitors and improve traffic flow by providing a designated area for public transport. Middelburg Mall features parking for 2400 cars.

The brief

The developers were looking for a contemporary design that would be iconic in the area. Easy shopper flows and visual appeal were important to create a fresh shopping experience. The design also had to take into account future expansion.

The design

MDS Architecture has designed a shopping centre that entices shoppers with its contemporary design incorporating warm and inviting design elements.

The front entrances of the mall feature exposed steel and structural concrete. From the outside, the off-shutter concrete frames the exposed trusses, creating an eye catching portico. Rotating glass doors serve to minimise draught and dust penetration whilst keeping the entrances light-filled.

The finish on the exterior walls includes different types of brickwork and stone cladding. Red facebrick, plastered bricks and exposed stock bricks were all used with exposed roof sheeting and wall cladding to further evoke elements of a typical mining house.

Pathways in front of the mall leading towards the entrances were specifically designed to enhance the traffic flow. Planted hedges were chosen instead of barriers to lead shoppers towards their destinations, creating balance and colour by the use of natural materials.  Eye-catching sculptures have been used to good effect outside the entrances and in the interior of the building, adding a playful element.

Inside, high level clerestory windows have been used throughout to naturally light the malls and the feature courts. At night, these clerestory windows give the effect of a lantern viewed from afar.

The mall features five promotional courts. Volume is a distinctive feature of the courts, as are the themed mosaic floor tiling designs inspired by Nguni cow hides. The flooring includes a combination of polished concrete and full bodied porcelain tiles.

Oversized chandeliers break down the scale of the large skylights, adding to the warm and homely feel whilst also drawing attention to the promotional areas. Directional signage on old-fashioned street lamps create further interest in the walkways.

Framed images of cows and sheep on the walls leading to the public toilets further evoke the farmhouse aesthetic, recycled timber ceiling and floor boards have been used to create these frames.

The walls and roofs have a rustic yet modern appeal. Exposed wooden trusses in the walkways contrast with modern bulkheads and concealed light troughs, these ensure the centre is light filled and comfortable. The red bricks in the walkways were further treated with a lime wash effect for a rustic yet contemporary appearance.

The structural concrete was left exposed above the shopfronts and entrance features as yet another respectful reminder of the raw materials used in the centre.

Natural light and energy efficiency

An abundance of natural light is provided by the clerestory windows and these also enhance the energy efficiency of the mall. The design also incorporates the use of large overhangs externally to assist with temperature control.

“LED lights were used throughout the mall including the signs of all the tenants,” says Pearce. Lighting in and outside the mall is regulated by sensors that switch on and off when the natural light levels are sufficient.

Construction challenges

Middelburg Mall was completed in less than two years, despite the roof collapsing in January 2011 due to a freak storm. “The final product is a testimony to the teamwork and calibre of the professional team,” says Pearce.

Future expansion

The design of Middelburg Mall includes planning for expansion of up to over 60 000 m2 to accommodate future growing shopper and retailer demand.

Until then, shoppers in Middelburg will enjoy a quality Mall characterised by thoughtful and honest design elements.


Architects:  MDS Architecture
Developers: Flanagan & Gerard and Moolman Group
Leasing agents:  Flanagan & Gerard
QS:  Norval Wentzel Steinberg Quantity Surveyors
Structural / Civil Engineers: L&S
Electrical Engineers:  RWP & Taemane


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 over 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 www.mdsarch.co.za