South Wharf DFO, New North Malls
The basement malls in the South Wharf DFO did not follow a classic figure 8 pattern. A large format Anaconda store blocked one opportunity in the north east, and other larger stores occupied potential mall space to the north west. With the expiry of leases came a desire to reconfigure tenancies in order to create a more desirable mall format and to satisfy significant over-demand for smaller tenancy space in the centre. In this case, there was also the opportunity to expand the food court offer in order to meet demand and to achieve a critical mass.
In general, the substitution of large stores with smaller stores which pay higher rents is an attractive play, which is offset to some extent by the costs of carrying out the modification works. Services re-locations were considerable. In addition, there was the issue of an angled column grid through the Anaconda footprint which was out of line with the continuation of the mall. The new mall needed to be threaded through the maze of columns to provide clarity and great sight lines for customers. Another difficulty concerned the expansion of the food court around the existing escalator, and the necessity to modify the ceiling treatment to tie the whole together. The north edge of the food court was edged by a dead wall to services areas – this needed to be treated effectively.
After much experimentation, a suitable mall alignment was achieved with just three columns in the middle of the mall, and excellent sight lines each side. The columns were treated with dark tinted mirror glass to reflect shopfronts and passing activity, and to minimise the feeling of obstruction. The food court ceiling was modified and extended, and the seating expanded in a range of configurations from banquets to small tables. The lift core has been clad in the dark mirror combined with timber. Seating abuts it, successfully disguising what is in effect a significant obstacle in the space. Close by was the dead wall, now displaying an attractive vertical garden, interspersed with warm timber. Not only has the customer experience been enhanced, but the many new tenancies are trading well, with the general mall circulation much improved.