Park Square, Umhlanga’s newest business and lifestyle development, will open its doors in November 2018. Merging beautifully with its surrounds, the development offers a future-forward, people-centred destination where the nearby communities and professionals can shop, work and connect.

Hunt PR’s Melanie Rosettenstein spoke to Jarryd Murray, MAP Architects director and co-founder, to get the inside track on his vision to create a connected community through this new building.

The brief

In 2015, Nedbank approached MAP Architects directors Murray and Charles Taylor to design a space that would accommodate its KwaZulu-Natal team. The brief was to create a structure that would allow the easy flow of people through the development and accommodate a 17,500m² space to house its staff, in addition to general commercial and retail space.

Having grown up on the KwaZulu-Natal north coast, Murray loves the great outdoors and has witnessed the area’s urban transformation over the years. Passionate about creating dynamic urban spaces, he has designed Park Square as a space that responds perfectly to Durban’s climate and one that will come to be an urban landmark on Umhlanga Ridge.

After spending some time pinning down the vision, Murray and his team set about conceptualising an off-the-ground design that would see the commercial elements “hovering” above a retail arcade and square that people could use for shopping and enjoying the city’s unique outdoor lifestyle.

The idea was born to create a connected community, an exceptional business destination for professionals to work and socialise, and a dynamic urban space to activate the local community.

Jarryd Murray, MAP Architects director and co-founder. Picture: SUPPLIED
Jarryd Murray, MAP Architects director and co-founder. Picture: SUPPLIED

Building design

The emphasis at Park Square is undoubtedly on transparency. The simple and modular building design features raw concrete slabs, steel beams, generous concrete overhangs and glassed infills. Column placements, exposed ramps and staircases are optimised for easy foot-traffic flow throughout the building. “Even though Park Square has them, our brief was for the design to discourage people from using the elevators,” says Murray.

The development’s 36,000m² commercial element is housed on the perimeter of its upper floors and features its own rooftop, which is punctuated with more than 100 planters to be filled with indigenous landscaping.

There is plenty of space to sit, take a break or meet informally outside the confines of the offices. “Here professionals can use the outside spaces to relax and unplug. All the offices are just a short walk from each other and this underpins the connected nature of this business community,” says Murray.

Nedbank’s space features a double-volume lobby and a vertical garden, and is open to people moving in and around the building. While the development’s western side is open and multi-levelled, the eastern side, which faces the CJ Saunders Park, is mostly glass.

Murray says: “We wanted to create something unique on the park side which gives back to the surroundings. By using timeless glass, the beautiful KwaZulu-Natal light reflects off the building in a sensitive and ever-changing manner.”

More than 3,500m² in size, the generous open square features an amphitheatre, grassed spaces and substantially sized planters with fig trees that will grow to create a lush and shady canopy over the square.


The retail section

The retail section, about 4,500m2 in size, opens onto the square, which means shops and restaurants are easily accessible. It includes the retail arcade, the development’s main artery, which seamlessly links the open square on the western side with the CJ Saunders Park on the eastern side.

Linear, directional paving channels people through the building’s elements, linking with the surrounding buildings and amenities such as the park, Gateway Theatre of Shopping and a proposed nearby GO!Durban Integrated Rapid Transport Network stop.

The square’s paving is more static and encourages people to stop and use the common break areas like benches and incidental grassy areas. Murray says: “This space is not overly designed and has been left open, dynamic and versatile for people to use in a way which comes naturally to them. There are no dead ends within the building, which reinforces the easy flow of people through the different sections.”

A total of 170 covered retail parking bays and about 50 street parking bays ensure ease of access. Among others, the confirmed tenants include:

  • A new-concept Spar and Tops;
  • Armitage Gent’s Boutique;
  • Seattle Coffee;
  • Marvelicious Ice Cream Emporium;
  • Mike’s Kitchen;
  • Sergeant Coffee;
  • Hello Hunny;
  • The Eye Gallery;
  • Eazi Laundromat;
  • Pizza Hut;
  • Medstone Pharmacy; and
  • PostNet.

The 1,500m² top-tier Spar will feature a 150m² Tops with whisky tasting. Showcasing a unique aviation theme and even a reception desk, this is a brand-new concept for Durban where shoppers will enjoy a convenient and trendy shopping experience.

“This on-trend, interactive retail experience is exactly what we envisioned when we designed Park Square. Together with our other retailers, the well-considered retail mix means that professionals and the local community won’t have to shop anywhere else,” says Murray.

Responding to Durban’s warm, outdoor climate, Park Square’s open design reveals the human activity taking place within the development. The result is a visibly connected, integrated and open community where people can come together in a vibrant, urban space.

While final construction continues at a great pace to complete the development, Murray adds: “We look forward to presenting this landmark development to the community as we are sure it will be a place that everyone can enjoy and benefit from.”

Visit www.parksquare.co.za to find out more.


This article was paid for by Nedport.