Baywest Mall is a 90,000 m² super regional mall situated on the urban edge of Port Elizabeth, South Africa. It is the largest retail development in the Eastern Cape province with over 250 shops over two levels that will cater for an estimated 800,000 visitors a month.
The success of the design lies in the simplicity of its plan – a crossed ring mall with retail anchors in each corner. The clearly defined vehicular and pedestrian entrances are on axis with the parking zones conveniently situated close to entrances allowing for fast direct access, with the emphasis on the arrival experience. The parking cells are also inter-connected for ease of access to any entrance. Back of house servicing is either directly from the four anchor corners, or from below ground – via basement tunnel and centrally located service lifts which feed both levels of retail.
The internal design emphasis is on visual and spatial connectivity, wide column-free malls with high double volume voids in all main and cross malls – expansive roof lights and prismatic diffusers providing natural light into the lower levels of the mall. The clear unobstructed sightlines create visual connectivity and the free-flowing mall layout provides a clearly legible retail experience. Vertical circulation includes substantial lift and escalator provision, connecting the two levels and allowing ease of movement throughout the mall. The mall also includes a promotions and food court area at its centre, linked to the “fun factory” entertainment area at the Boulevard entrance, with state of the art cinemas, games and bowling, ice rink and restaurants.
Green design principles include the use of large atria providing natural light, LED lighting throughout, rainwater harvesting, solar panels, future BRT links, as well as substantial conservation areas created in the surrounding landscape. The mall itself is not air-conditioned and makes use of overflow AC from the shops and fresh air replacement. The project created over 7500 jobs and also used locally sourced materials wherever possible. Disabled access has been carefully applied in the mall design, and in addition to statutory ramp access, parking and toilet provision, details such as the height of tables in the food court table height were considered, meaning wheelchair users are not limited to specific areas.
Baywest Mall is the catalyst for the Baywest City precinct development and the expansion of the city of Port Elizabeth, and its creation provides a much needed economic boost to the area.