Fourways Mall opened at the end of 2019. At its core is the concept of retail as a lifestyle and entertainment destination alongside convenience. While people are hesitant to return to malls, the easy access of wide corridors and large open promotion courts facilitates social distancing.

Masingita Mall in Giyani opened in March 2019. It features skylights and a top layer of windows to harness natural lighting along with large open central courts. Both of these design elements are valuable for safety and usability post COVID-19.

“There are many possibilities for the future, with each shopping centre having unique and varied potential solutions. Unused space within shopping centres could be used for different things – such as a clinic, mid-life training or education opportunities for young people. Perhaps it can be used as temporary logistic and storage facilities.”

Increasing the footfall in retail spaces is going to be challenging, says DewarVan Antwerpen (Director, Boogertman + Partners). Shopping centres are attractions – a place where community members gather – but the pandemic has led to a sharp decrease in numbers. Many consumers are opting for online shopping to stay safe, and shopping centre owners and tenants are feeling the pinch. “Fewer people are going to shopping centres, and this will likely be the case for some time. There is also a psychological restraint against closed malls, with people preferring open retail environments, where they can drive right up to the store they want to go to. This has led to many vacant spaces in malls and questions as to what is going to be done with this space,” says Van Antwerpen.

Watch the interview with Dewar van Antwerpen and Marlene van Rooyen