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Constructing the large-scale, iconic Mall of Africa

Mall of Africa opens in April 2016

Mall of Africa

15 July 2015 - The massive 131 000 m² Mall of Africa is scheduled to open in April 2016. Currently the largest retail development being built in a single phase in Africa, the expansive retail offering features a distinctive design and an ideal location in the middle of the 1.73 million square metre mixed-use Waterfall City development in Midrand, Gauteng. The combination is destined to create a go-to destination for both local residents and tourists.

The design inspiration for the mall and courts is drawn from the natural and geological beauty of the African continent. There will be four courts that depict the different climatic zones on the continent: an oleum court depicting the oil rich West Africa, a great lakes court depicting East Africa, a crystal court depicting the mineral wealth in South Africa and a sand court depicting the desert area of North Africa.

“The mall’s design also incorporates many unique elements, including very high shop fronts, wide passages and an undulating roof feature in the centre with specialist animated LED lighting and a large public space with restaurants known as the Town Square. The gross leasable area will be 131 000 m² and 261 tenants will be setting up shop in this new luxury development,” says architect Tia Kanakakis of MDS Architects, the architectural firm for the Mall of Africa.

Leading South African property developer and investor, Atterbury, appointed Aurecon as civil and structural engineers for the iconic development. Gerhard Saayman, Professional Engineer at Aurecon, responsible for managing Aurecon’s design and construction supervision teams on the project, says that the sheer size of the mall is making the Mall of Africa an exceptionally rewarding project to work on.

“The gross building area is 485 000 m², which equals 65 rugby pitches. The size of the mall that will be occupied by major tenants such as Edgars, Woolworths, Truworths, Checkers, Ster Kinekor and Game will equal the size of the entire Middelburg Mall,” says Saayman.

The completion of the concrete structure and steel work for the roofs as well as the facades is the project’s next major milestone and is currently on target for completion on programme.

“This milestone would enable the interior shop fit outs to proceed, putting us another step closer to completion,” says Saayman.

While any large building project will come with its own unique set of challenges, the scale of the Mall of Africa means that the project team, comprising the professional team and the main contractor, had to overcome specific challenges relating to logistics and programming of construction sequences, as well as hiring and managing a wide range of subcontractors.

Teamwork needed for the programming of construction sequences

A highly unified team was needed to fast-track the construction of such a large project. Everyone’s activities and scope, from the professional team to the main contractor, subcontractors and building services have to be planned and sequenced with precision and attention to detail.

“Everything has to be implemented in the correct sequence and, with such a large range of activities happening on site, this requires dedicated teamwork, strict quality control processes and a deep understanding of the timelines and construction sequences of retail developments,” he adds.

Aurecon’s approach towards ensuring a successful project

“Meticulous planning, innovative design solutions and ongoing collaboration between all stakeholders has enabled us to keep meeting deadlines and resolving challenges to reach the key milestones of the programme. Teamwork between the design professionals and the contractors were key to not only meet each deadline, but also to design cost consciously at all times and fast track the various stages of construction,” says Saayman.

The main construction period for this massive development is only 32 months. This is not only a huge challenge for the main contractor, but requires a massive amount of design and construction documentation to be produced within a very short period of time by the design consultants.

Six of Aurecon’s design offices and over 50 engineers, technicians and draughters are currently working on this project to ensure designs and quality construction documentation were delivered according to programme.

Designers committed to continuous value engineering and optimisation throughout the design phase to achieve the most economic design solutions. For the majority of design requirements, various options were tabled in order for the most cost effective solution to be identified and constructed.

Dedicated involvement from Aurecon’s four site engineers with the Joint Venture of WBHO and Group 5 ensures construction queries and problems are identified and resolved immediately. This relationship between our engineers and the contractor is immensely important and essential to a successful construction phase.

“Aurecon is proud to be a part of the project team on such an iconic development here in South Africa,” says Nicol Labuschagne, Aurecon’s Project Director for the Mall of Africa development.

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