Nicolway Shopping Centre Brings Contemporary Elegance To Bryanston

Nicolway Shopping Centre is a contemporary convenience shopping centre in the heart of Bryanston. The split level shopping centre is subtly sophisticated with an air of minimalism.

“The brief from the developer, Rodrigues Group, was to design a chic neighbourhood shopping experience that would appeal to the residents of the suburb, with convenience an important factor,” says Louis Pretorius, the partner at MDS Architecture leading the project.

Nicolway opened to the public in April 2012 and attracted more than 400 000 visitors within the first month of trading. Flanagan & Gerard Property Development and Investment are the appointed development and leasing managers and they have created a vibrant tenant mix.

Nicolway boasts a 3 200 m2 new Woolworths Concept Store with the largest food market in Woolworths’ history, a 3 600 m2 Checkers tailored specially for the local market, and a theatre of shopping and food in the 2500 m2 Food Lovers Market.

With a total GLA of 23 000 m2, Nicolway provides for a variety of restaurants and shops, a gym as well as further free standing restaurants. There is generous undercover and outdoor parking spread over three levels and easily accessible to the centre. 

Unfortunately planning restrictions did not allow for making the most of the views that the site affords to the west, and therefore the decision was taken to focus the frontage onto William Nicol Drive with a double volume glazed restaurant seating area and walkway.

The prominent site is at the intersection of William Nicol Drive and Wedgewood Link and offers excellent visibility from the street. The scale is deceiving, however and leaves much more for visitors to discover once inside. “Visibility and relationship to the road and parking area were important design considerations given that the site is on such a busy route. In fact, all the servicing for this retail development is housed in a tunnel around the back of the building that is appropriately sound-proofed and removed from the shoppers,” explains Pretorius.

The prominent entrances extend the mall towards the road and create porte-cochere features which also provide ideal space for signage. The building’s exterior facing the road is a mix of steel, glass and stonework and is spectacular at night by virtue of the height of the façade and the internal lighting design. The restaurant seating areas open up to the parking with high sliding stacking doors providing both natural ventilation and an abundance of natural light. Glazed awnings above the walkways have been used to good effect to reduce the heat build-up.

There were not many opportunities for landscaping, as the building fills much of the site. Along William Nicol planting has been used to soften the interface between the centre and the street edge, large trees in pots have been used on the open upper parking level to soften the parking area and provide some shade. Planning requirements stipulated that a landscaped zone be provided as a buffer along the western boundary to the residential properties, 5m high indigenous trees and veld grass have been plated there.

The restaurant area is a light-filled double volume space with planting in large pots, evoking a lively tree-lined street. Each restaurant is distinct in style, ranging from contemporary to French Provencal. The porcelain tiles with their wood-look finish and the large aluminium folding doors serve as elements marrying the various styles while maintaining each with their own unique ambience.


Natural light is used to maximum effect at the Nicolway Bryanston. Spread over two levels, the centre is designed so that the lower level will also enjoy the abundant natural light through five cleverly positioned voids; these link the levels by fashioning airy double-volume atriums channelling natural light throughout the entire mall.

The atriums also create positive connections between the two levels, allowing shoppers to easily position themselves in the mall while maximising retailer brand value with exposure to both levels. 

A four-metre-wide glass strip, which admits plenty of natural light through the roof, runs 90 meters in length and connects the mall to the sunny outdoors. “Not only is this both aesthetically and comfortably pleasing to the shoppers, it is also cost-effective for the ongoing operation of the mall,” notes Pretorius. 

Natural ventilation and the clever use of glass for heating and cooling increases the centre’s energy efficiency. Further energy efficiency measures include the idling of escalators – they stand idle until someone actually steps onto them - and lighting that is connected to motion sensors.

Home Décor Section

A focal point of the centre’s interior is the stand-out home-decor zone in the heart of the lower level. It has been designed so that shoppers instinctively know they are entering a unique and stylish lifestyle shopping node within Nicolway.

Transition into this area is marked by a subtle variation of architectural language and a distinction in the colours and finishes. These include marble wall cladding, a timber look tiling finish on the floors and towering four-metre-high, fully opening shop fronts with signage set behind the glazing. “The bulkheads in this area are painted a different shade to further demarcate the home décor zone,” says Pretorius.

Construction took 14 months, and was completed on schedule by the main contractor, WBHO. There is a corporate office development currently under construction on one of the remaining pad sites and this is scheduled for completion in August 2012. The other pad site will provide for a future development opportunity and will cater to the demand at that time.

Nicolway is a welcome addition to the affluent area of Bryanston, providing convenience and variety in an elegant and unobtrusive way.

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 almost 60 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


Client: Rodrigues Group
Development & Leasing Managers: Flanagan & Gerard
Architect: MDS Architecture
Main Contractor: WBHO
Quantity Surveyor: Brian Heineberg and Associates
Electrical Engineer: RWP
Mechanical Engineer: WSP
Structural & Civil Engineer: L&S Consulting
Fire Consultants: Specialised Fire Technology

Photographs courtesy of Mike Pawley.