Marine Walk Shopping Centre

Sibaya, KwaZulu Natal, South Africa

Marine Walk Shopping Centre is located in KZN’s up and coming Sibaya precinct, promising residents of nearby areas a convenient and family-centric retail space. Project lead, Devmco Group’s Brad Winstanley believes that convenience and connection are two of the most important factors for people looking to change and improve their lifestyles.


The need for a local retail centre was identified due to the increasing expansion of the Sibaya Precinct.

Research showed that the demand for a centre came not just from the residents in the immediate area but also from the wider community. The concept for the design originated out of the desire to create a community centred space, where residents could do their shopping at the Spar and Woolworths and other retailers and then meet up with friends at one of the restaurants for a meal afterwards. And that is exactly what has occurred, as a variety of restaurants offer up-market dining options within the inviting inner courtyard. In fact the successful tenant mix has been a drawcard for visitors to the centre. A children’s play area within the courtyard creates a family friendly environment. The Covid years changed the way people shop, with many making increasing use of online shopping. A successful modern retail development thus has to become a lifestyle as well as a retail destination in order to attract visitors.

“We have set our sights on improving the quality of life for people in the area through this shopping centre. We are proud to have created a curated collection of retailers in a safe shopping space, with an open-air courtyard and restaurants that spill out into nature. It is a space that inspires relaxation, entertainment, and connection,”


The Site

The site selected for the centre on Jabu Ngcobo Drive is situated in a depression, backed by a large bank which has been levelled out onto a platform. The challenge for the architects, COA, was to accommodate a traditional linear mall of approximately 9,000 mon a steep, irregularly shaped site.

The design solution was to break up the straight line by creating a ‘boomerang’ shaped island in the front of the building that also allowed for a central courtyard. The result is that the main retail elements face the parking which provides the required exposure whilst the restaurants are situated further back within the courtyard created by breaking the linear profile. It was also important to orientate the building towards the busy intersection, ensuring good visibility. The goal was to meet the criteria set by the client and retail tenants, with regards to accessibility and visibility on a challenging site. Accessibility to back of house delivery areas is just as vital the success of a centre as access to parking for visitors, and the architects worked closely with the engineers to achieve the right levels for the access road at the rear of the centre. The centre is fronted by a double level of parking, with both shop level and basement parking available. From the basement you can access the shops either via escalator or lift.


The use of concrete in the façade worked quite well as its fluid nature allowed for the creation of some interesting soft forms, particularly in the courtyard area.

This created a more organic form compared to the standard angular strip mall design. Concrete is also beneficial as it is low maintenance and relatively easy to construct with. The concrete forms were kept clean and uncluttered, with nothing attached to the soffit. Lighting is attached to columns and signage to the walls in order to preserve the lines of the concrete. Water is collected on the surface of the canopy and taken down the inside of the concrete support columns. The end result is a large but very thin and delicate canopy. Other materials used include a dark facebrick and timber elements which provide some softness and texture to the design. The use of concrete also extends to the polished concrete floors which have a shaped curb edge to echo the organic curves of the roof. The floors are edged with a tile detail along the edge of the shopfronts.


Creating a sustainable retail development was important to Devmco and a number of sustainable initiatives were incorporated. Marine Walk is powered off of a 1MW direct current solar plant.

All of the rainwater is harvested off of the roof for use in the ablutions and for watering the landscaping. The environment on which the centre was built was also taken into account. Originally an old sugar plantation, the land had been denuded of indigenous coastal bush and tree species. These have now been reintroduced into the centre’s landscaping. Adjacent to the centre the wetlands have been rehabilitated and replanted with indigenous species. The developers have also taken into account the pressure placed on the existing sewerage network in the area. A direct sewerage line has been linked directly to the Umdloti Wastewater Treatment Works in order not to place any further strain on the sewerage network. All streetlights within the development operate off of solar powered batteries. Timber is sustainably farmed and building materials are recycled wherever possible. Open air spaces within the heart of the centre allow for natural ventilation and surround the visitor with natural landscaping.


“We have created a shopping and lifestyle space where convenience is at the heart of this offering as we work towards redefining the customer retail experience. Retail is shifting, and customers are embracing the move to smaller, more intimate shopping zones. They no longer need to travel to the large ‘city centre’ malls to get their shopping done, when they can do it right here, and enjoy the same service excellence from their favourite local brands, in the fresh open air on the coast – close to home.”

Charles Thompson
Devmco Group Director