Merino Mall in Ermelo, located in the greater Gert Sibande District in Mpumalanga, is currently under construction. Expected to be completed by October 2022, the shopping centre, which features the extensive re-use of natural materials, was designed by the award-winning firm, MDS Architecture.
A consortium of investors, including property developers Moolman Group and Abland, are developing the 28 000m2 fully enclosed regional shopping centre. It will be the only shopping centre of this size within a 100 km radius of Ermelo.
The mall’s name is derived from the Merino sheep breed, paying tribute to the site’s history. The mall will be built on the original Ermelo Showgrounds on the corners of the N2 and N11 freeways, near the N17 and within walking distance from the Ermelo CBD.
Sean Pearce, partner at MDS Architecture, says that the design took into account the agricultural activity in the area.
“The original showground barn structures were used as inspiration in the building and became a key design feature, with the barn shape becoming a distinctive visual reference,” he explains.
The steep slope on the site resulted in massive bulk earthworks, which commenced in July 2021 and were completed in November 2021.
“Merino Mall’s design needed to provide good visibility from the main road, while considering the residential areas to the rear of the site. For this reason, the building is located away from most of the residential areas and landscaping has been used to provide a level of screening,” says Pearce.
Sandstone is endemic to the area and was found on the site. It will be reused for feature walls. Other natural materials such as timber and steel complement the red bricks and concrete portals at the main entrances.
Main malls are treated as barn structures. Internally, they feature exposed roof sheeting, concrete beams above shopfronts and exposed, lime-washed red brick walls. Clerestory windows along the malls and feature courts ensure an abundance of natural light.
“In addition to reusing the sandstone and retaining the existing barn structure, Merino Mall will showcase the work of local artists,” concludes Pearce.
Mechanical engineers: Ingplan
Structural engineers: DG Consulting Engineers
Electrical engineer: Watson Matheus
Fire engineer: Ronnie Koekemoer & Associates
Wet services engineer: Watsol and Orion – tenant coordinators