Thavhani Mall in Limpopo, South Africa by MDS Architecture

Thavhani Mall is a 50 000 sqm regional retail development, located in the centre of Thohoyandou in Northern Limpopo. 

The vision for the mall is credited to local businessman Khosi Ramovha of Thavhani Property Investments who partnered with South African shopping centre developers and investors Flanagan & Gerard Property Development and Investment to drive the vision forward.

Designed by MDS Architecture the mall features over 134 shops, restaurants and service outlets. One of the more prominent elements of the mall’s architecture are the major entrances which feature high volume canopies held up by abstract structures inspired by the language of the Baobab tree. This concept is intended to evoke of notion of “pause and gathering”.

Entrance and Facade Treatment

Bright colours have been incorporated into glass entrance lobbies to reference the colourful regional artwork and fabrics endemic to the area. Lighting at the entrances draws visitors into the building. Uplighting and downlighting have been used to highlight the entrances and entrance features, while starscape lighting has been used at the entrance ceilings. The wind lobbies to each entrance are lit up at night to create a lantern effect with the different colours of glass used.

The exterior finish of the building is a combination of painted bagging in earthy tones, face brick in terracotta and beige satin, a selection guided by the need for minimal maintenance due to the high humidity and rainfall of the area.

“Wind lobbies coming off each entrance have coloured vinyl, creating a lingering glow in the evening. During the day, colour glows into the mall are created by sunlight surrounding the entrances,…..It was critical to illuminate the external lighting to the five entrances properly so as to create an iconic night time beacon and make a feature of the entrances, highlighting the baobab tree and lantern concepts to the wind lobbies,”

Donald McGillivray, MDS Architecture partner and project lead

Interior Design and Lighting

The mall’s interior features double volume spaces. There was a conscious effort to create as much natural light as possible, which was achieved by the inclusion of high level clerestory windows as well as opening created in the floors. The building is completely illuminated by the natural light from these clerestory windows during the day and complemented by accent lighting keeping internal mall lighting to a minimum during the day.

A common thread of recessed cove lighting and ceiling bulkhead lighting was used to tie the upper and lower levels mall together. The feature courts within the mall are where zones were created and each court has a specific theme and lighting to suit.

A pixelated leaf floor pattern incorporated into the floor of the mall creates the illusion that the ‘double volume trees’ have shed their leaves. The colour palette is a timeless black and white combination, which adds a contemporary feel to the shopping centre. It is infused with earthy blues, browns and greens while vibrant splashes of orange, yellow, blue and red uplift the monochromatic scheme through mall furniture.

The three main circulation courts are double volume and bathed in natural light from clerestory windows wrapping around the high level perimeter and each of the courts has its own aesthetic theme. The Edgars court references the earthly terracotta via an eye-catching light feature made of terracotta pots turned upside down.

The Woolworths court has a custom-made light fitting constructed with Consol jars by Optique Lighting Design, while the central court – the main feature court for promotions – has tube light fittings to give it scale. The central court also includes a glazed feature lift.

As temperatures in Thohoyandou soar to highs of up to 50 degrees Celsius in summer, the interior is climate-controlled. All clerestory windows on the south side are well shaded to ensure no heat build-up or unnecessary glare. In addition, the massive canopies at the entrances ensure heavy shading.

An interesting aspect of Thavhani Mall is that it doesn’t include a dedicated food court. Instead, focused food offerings are clustered around the entrances. The upper level at entrance four is where visitors will find fast food outlets while entrance five offers restaurants. Entrance three is also focused on food, and the other two entrances on the lower level are banking areas.

Thavhani Mall has domestic water/fire tanks, so its water supply is fully backed up. It also has backup generators and many tenants have their own generators as well. The onsite borehole is used for irrigation and has a shutoff valve that can be opened if the domestic tanks run out of water.

The Thavhani City Precinct

The Thavhani Mall is designed to be the focal point of a large mixed-use urban precinct mega development, Thavhani City, which is being developed on a 27ha site in Thohoyandou.  As a shared vision between Thavhani Property Investments and the Thulamela Local Municipality, it will add the Thavhani Office Park, a motor city, hotel with conference centre and private health-care facilities to the existing facilities, which include a library, community centre, information centre, and the 40 000-capacity Thohoyandou Stadium.

“In addition to offering the community the biggest and best selection of shopping and leisure options, Thavhani Mall will serve as a significant boost to the Thohoyandou local economy,”

Paul Gerard from Flanagan & Gerard Property Development and Investment

“The Thavhani City Precinct is likely to create a new city centre for Thohoyandou. The shopping centre design incorporates an option for a further 20 000 sqm extension as part of Phase 2 of the existing shopping centre,”

Donald McGillivray, MDS Architecture partner and project lead
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