OK Zimbabwe recently opened their brand new store on the 5th November 2020, at the Tynwald Mall, Sanganai Corner, along Kirkman Road. The supermarket is very busy and has proven to be extremely popular with residents in Tynwald, Kuwadzana, and the surrounding suburbs. Previously residents were forced to travel long distances for the convenience of all-in-one supermarket shopping.
Construction of the mall started towards the end of 2019 and was it expected to be completed in mid-2020 – but like most large scale construction projects the Covid pandemic seriously affected timetables, schedules, and of course budgets. The project was not without its own challenges. The site slopes significantly from east to west necessitating some groundwork and the construction of a retaining wall on the east side, separating the mall from the neighbouring – rather dilapidated – structures. Negotiations are at a sensitive stage intended to integrate the neighbours into the overall landscaping and design plan.
Attention had to be paid to stormwater drainage for the run-off from the parking area and the sizeable roof structure. This entailed constructing a rainwater drainage system – with a grid-covered channel across the entrance to the parking area – leading the water into the civil drainage system and eventually to Lake Chivero. In addition, almost 2 kilometres of sewer line had to be constructed to connect the mall to the council sewer line which ultimately ends up at the Crowborough treatment plant. Chisipo Consulting was superintending all the engineering works on this project.
The designers of the mall created a series of generic ‘white box’ spaces which tenants are then able – with assistance from the developers – to tailor-make to suit their requirements. The developers have provided electricity from a dedicated ZESA transformer, a back-up generator, as well as provisions for a solar power system. Tenants have their own individual ZESA metres to make payment and contribution calculations simple and transparent. The council water supply is sporadic and unreliable so there’s an on-site borehole as well as water tanks that can store substantial amounts of water for the tenants. Food courts obviously consume a significant of water each day during their usual day-to-day business.
The developers have supplied an efficient air-con system so the food court and the shops are kept comfortable all year round. They’ve also included a lighting design for both the interior and exterior of the mall for the convenience and security of late-night patrons. The mall has the capacity to become a safe and convenient space for the community to meet, socialise and take advantage of all the facilities available.
The OK Supermarket and their adjacent liquor outlet are the first tenants to take up trading in the new mall. Other tenants who will soon take up occupancy are expected to include a Chicken Inn food court (which will most likely incorporate their associated outlets like Bakers Inn and Pizza Inn), a pharmacy, and a hardware retailer, among others. The mall is expected to be fully operational, with all the landscaping and final details completed, within a few months.
This section of Tynwald had previously been relatively neglected and underdeveloped so the mall will bring new vigour and vibrancy to the suburb, as well as helping to create a number of employment opportunities for local residents. It’s part of a bigger urban planning scheme to upgrade the area that could include adjacent housing developments, as well as encouraging factories and warehouses to consider Tynwald as a more desirable and economically viable destination.
While Tynwald has traditionally been a predominantly residential area an employment corridor along Kirkman Road is being established and is expanding rapidly. The overriding concept behind the new development is that people will be able to live, work and shop within a mixed-use peri-urban environment where all the facilities and amenities that they need are within easy travelling distance. The development of Tynwald and the surrounding suburbs will, in years to come, help to reduce traffic flow into and out of the Harare Central Business District for work and for shopping, helping to de-congest the City centre and generally improve living conditions. The mall is the brainchild of Ruswa Consulting and it was then developed and funded by a forward-looking consortium of private investors, is set to change and improve the lifestyle of the currently less privileged communities on the western side of the City.
The mall has been designed so that the exterior of the structure requires minimal maintenance. Walls have been constructed of face brick or clad with tiles or stone. Small sections are finished in plaster which tenants can choose to paint incorporate colours and there’s ample provision above the shop fronts for logos or illuminated signage to add colour and interest and draw in prospective shoppers. Vertical gardens and a green portico will provide shade and shelter for customers who choose to eat outside the food court on the pavement promenade and also soften the boxy concrete and glass facade.
There’s a high roof above the entrance to the supermarket, partly to provide shelter for shoppers from sun and rain, but also to add architectural emphasis (and visual appeal) to the main access. The entrance opening has an unusually wide span – around 9 metres across – which helps to encourage shoppers to cross the threshold into the retail space. There’s also a generous amount of secure and convenient paved parking space in front and to the side of the structure for the convenience of the customers – none of the hassle involved in finding safe parking often experienced within the City.
If you’re in the area the mall is definitely worth a visit – it’s along Kirkman Road just a few kilometres past the Harare Drive intersection. You can’t miss it.
In the meantime look out for a follow up article which we’ll be featuring when the mall is fully occupied and bustling with vitality and energy!
– text by Michael Nott
– renders by ERC Consulting
– photos by Structure and Design