Hermanus is a seaside town, a 2-hour drive from Cape Town’s CBD, and is situated in South Africa’s Western Cape. Hermanus is internationally known as a whale-watching destination. This extraordinary attribute is what shaped the identity of the Whale Coast Mall, from the building silhouette to the playful floating public art work in the centre’s expo court. Whale Coast Mall is situated directly off the main arterial connecting Cape Town to Hermanus and other towns along the coast, and it provides a well-positioned retail offering to the local shopper as well as holiday makers and travellers. Bentel Associates International and JLDesign embarked on a joint venture to design and implement this shopping centre in the heart of Hermanus.
The brief from the Client, Dorpstraat, to the Architects was to design and build a shopping centre to cater for a very specific market – as well as to create a development that does not compete with existing retailers, so as to allow for all developments in the area to benefit from different markets.
Rather interestingly, this shopping centre’s original design was conceived as an open-yet-covered centre, and without air-conditioning. In practice, the weather in the area triumphed and, because of this, it became a necessity to re-think this concept. All design and build parties needed to work in unison and convert the building’s design into a fully air-conditioned environment within the existing budget, aesthetic elements, finishes and ambiance being compromised. This was difficult to achieve as the relatively small size did not allow for excessive aesthetic treatment – the cost of which is easier to absorb on larger projects. Still, this shopping centre holds its own in its strong appearance, given the budget.
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