Located along Marine Drive, the Boardwalk precinct is one of Gqeberha’s most prominent landmarks. Just a short walk from the Blue Flag awarded Hobie Beach, the first phase of Boardwalk Mall opened in March 2022, offering a variety of entertainment options. Construction of its second phase is nearly complete with the new mall’s grand opening scheduled for the 22nd of September 2022.
As part of the first phase of development, the existing cinema and retail offering was upgraded and reconfigured by MDS Architecture, who also designed the complementary Boardwalk Mall.
Pierre Lahaye, a partner at MDS Architecture, says that Boardwalk Mall is the first part of realizing the vision for the precinct, linking with the Sun International Boardwalk Casino and the Boardwalk Hotel.
“Our design is cognizant of integrating into the existing architecture in a contemporary way and creating a streetscape that has developed over time. It is a contemporary interpretation of the current style which was achieved with elements like the shape of the roofs and an aesthetic of a refurbished dockside building,” he explains. Internally, industrial chic elements include exposed structural details and tactile materials.
The first phase of Boardwalk Mall is already attracting locals and tourists who are enjoying the available retail options. “There are several pedestrian access points to the building and to the rest of the new offerings being built, integrating the precinct into the urban landscape. It is quite something to be able to step out onto the beautiful beachfront promenade directly from the shopping centre,” he says.
Construction progress on the rest of the precinct is visible from the shopping centre and provides a glimpse into some of the attractions to look forward to, such as a new 2 500m2 open arena at the heart of the precinct, the multi-functional Sunpark events arena. It includes a large screen, a landscaped children’s play area and access for the transportation of equipment for large events.
Local artists’ work will be featured, and the existing festival lawns area will be activated for outdoor activities, which then link to events at Boardwalk Mall and the events arena.
The owners of the Boardwalk precinct are Sun International and Flanagan & Gerard – experienced leisure operators combined with developers with a proven track record in retail development and management. Significant infrastructure and road upgrades are included in the development and the Boardwalk has been a catalyst for upgrades elsewhere in the Summerstrand area.
“Unique in many ways because of its setting as part of the Boardwalk Precinct, the Boardwalk Mall design by MDS Architecture seamlessly connects our new development with a well-established landmark and creates effortless links with the surrounding city and its beaches. It is this kind of thoughtful, appealing modern architecture that ensures an excellent experience is built-in to the very fabric of the mall,” says Paul Gerard, MD of Flanagan & Gerard.
“Flexibility has been a key consideration in the design of this scheme,” explains Lahaye. “In addition, good environmental principles have been deployed with a view to continuously building up to carbon-neutral developments. Landscaping from the original scheme has been reclaimed, with trees being replanted which have been growing for a year,” he concludes.