Mamelodi Shopping Centre, Mamelodi, Gauteng. MDS Architecture for McCormick Property Development.



Architect Africa reports that Mamelodi Shopping Centre is now under construction, with completion due in late 2011.

Is there really no alternative to this? A string of giant, faceless boxes in a sea of parking. With no connectedness to its urban context. South African architects and developers are capable of so much more. Aren’t they?


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Six, Cape Town CBD. Arthur Quinton & Darryl Croome Architects for Leisure Development.


Excuse the terrible photo. If you have a better one, please add it to Flickr.

Edit: More images and discussion at Via rfataar on Flickr.  

I’ve spotted this a number of times on my way into and out of Cape Town CBD. I’ve watched its construction over the past months, and it’s bothered me. I wasn’t sure why. And then they painted the top grey!


I realised that the building has no roof. No top. At least not any meaningful top. Not a top that responds to the scale of the building. It’s all… middle! Well, perhaps there’s a bottom too. You can’t see that from the highway and I can’t really be bothered to go look.

The building goes all the way up and then—apart from that limp-wristed, skinny metal lid—it’s just sky! Simply painting the upper floor grey does not a top make.


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Sarah Calburn’s Call to Arms.


A Call to Arms

In answer to this question: ‘Is there anything unique about South African architecture?’ from Nicole Hijbeek of Design Mind following the Open Think Box debate, I wrote this… “South African architecture is unique to South Africa: in its weakness…”

Office, Umhlangane, KwaZulu-Natal. Ruben Reddy Architects for Eiger Group.


So, this is dull. The northern edge doesn’t address the street in any meaningful way. The western edge flat-out ignores it. It ignores the sun too! I’m not sure how the wavy bit relates to the rest of the scheme. Materials have been applied to surfaces in what must be a desperate attempt to distract us from the fact that the building’s really a plastered lump, painted a smoggy grey-blue. And the red? Really?


The southern elevation tries a little harder. But becomes an essay in the disparities between the vision sold and the cynical, developer-trodden reality.



Greenstone Mall, Edenvale, Gauteng. Unknown for Sasol Pension Fund


Room Without a View from The Naked Architect.

Contextually this mall is as absurd as the developments surrounding it. This constant reassurance that the area is now vibrant and young, with new energy and market power, does little to squelch our insecurities. Where are the parks and playgrounds, the open entertainment venues ? Does the mall not consume this enormous void and create a false sense of validation for the entire development?

Greenstone Mall

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