Gateway Theatre of Shopping has had a fundamental influence on the boom in the development of Umhlanga Ridge. The primary motivation to undertake this project was to match increasing consumer demands, to respond to a request from global brands for representation in the mall, to act on interest from local brands for additional space and the directive from the Client to revitalize the social and entertainment nodes of the mall.

The expansion introduced leading global brands such as H&M, Starbucks and Hamley’s. A new mall extension was developed to expand existing key brands and an interactive Food Court was designed as the nexus of the entertainment node of Gateway.

Architectural Brief

The brief was to relocate the current existing food and entertainment offerings and to create a spacious and comfortable FEC component, taking advantage of natural light and breath-taking views over the Durban landscape. The design was to respond positively to the need for a central gathering area providing food and entertainment thereby acting as a positive catalyst for new and innovative aesthetics.

From inception, the main architectural elements were envisioned to celebrate steel as the primary aesthetic, to create a cohesive design in perfect synergy with the existing architecture while adding to the character of Gateway with new materials, shapes, colours and forms, merging into a harmonious and elegant new style.

While collaborating with the Structural Engineer, it was identified early in the design phase that the development would need to be a lightweight solution due to load limitations in the existing structure and foundations. The use of steel was expanded to be employed as the primary structure, to ensure the global weight remained within the restrictive parameters.

Structural Framing

The structural framing strategy was twofold. First, the Public spaces were designed around bespoke Architectural steel sections meticulously crafted to be unclad and expressed as the finished aesthetic. Second, retail spaces were constructed around standard steel profiles, externally finished in aluminium sheeting and cladding, aligning to the loading strategy.

The use of leading 3D modelling software, cutting edge structural analysis and fabrication techniques facilitated the intensive collaboration with the Architect, Engineers and Fabricators to create each bespoke element, resolve any clashes and produce a fully coordinated, finalised design before any steel was procured for construction.

Using Autodesk and Tekla 3D modelling and design software, compiled with CNC steel fabrication, the team was able to effectively resolve and fabricate all the bespoke and standard steel elements with a high level of precision and accuracy.

The use of these methods was carried through to informing the construction strategies employed, which achieved significant time and cost savings and further empowered the Architects to explore and achieve a complex and high level of architecture.

Due to the complex geometries in the design and critical tolerances required, large portions of the steel structure had to be fabricated and assembled off-site in controlled facilities.

The erection process was extremely challenging and complex for these elements. As the finished aesthetic, a high level of accuracy had to be maintained throughout, which necessitated exceptional coordination and innovative techniques to achieve.

In some instances, the erection process was further complicated by having to hoist the elements up to heights exceeding 30 meters with the use of lightweight cranes, specified due to load restrictions of the structure.


The cladding materials selected for this project were Kliptite in mill finish aluminium, which was selected due to its corrosion resistance, wind upliftment negating design and alignment with the Architectural aesthetic. Hulabond aluminium cladding in metallic finishes was selected to compliment the Kliptite sheeting.

The aluminium sheeting was concealed-fixed to the sweeping rooftops which were designed as three intersecting curved planes, set along three axis. Each was connected by inversely raking facades of aluminium sheeting and Hulabond cladding. Several areas of the curved cladding were fixed at a height exceeding 30 meters off the ground level.

How does this project demonstrate the benefits of steel?

This project demonstrates the ability to utilise steel as not just a structural material to be clad or hidden away, but also as the primary aesthetic feature in any form of Architecture. Through innovative design and collaboration with the Engineers, a striking piece of Architecture can be achieved that is both aesthetic and structural in nature, existing in perfect symbiosis with each other.

This allows a high level of design to be explored, whether intricate or elegant, but always one that pushes the boundaries of Architecture, structural and steel design. To quote Arthur C Clarke, “The only way to discover the limits of the possible is to go beyond them into the impossible”.

The inclusion of Starbucks into Gateway necessitated a unique aesthetic solution and was designed by the Architects to become a new feature of Gateways iconic main entrance.

The external façade of Starbucks was envisioned as a 41-meter-long “floating” glass curve, arching behind the main entrance columns and converging with the existing curtain wall with no visible supporting structure.

This was achieved using two bespoke curved steel polygonal sections, designed as the finished aesthetic to create an elegantly slender support for the 250m2 sheer glass curtain wall, the steel Bondek floor slab and the steel roof structure.

The Palm Court was created with tensile structures running parallel along the restaurant line and connecting to the Starbucks structure. The tensile membranes were connected to a bespoke steel tube support structure comprising of feature posts and “hidden” back bracing. The posts were formed of 200mm diameter steel sections measuring at 8.6 meters high with closed curve bevel tipped ends.

The Architectural steel of the Food Court was designed as a curved and raking ribbed structure, fashioned to form a slender refined profile. Unclad and expressed as the finished aesthetic, the steelwork arrangement created a seamless connection with the external environment, allowing an abundant influx of natural light into the space.

The main vaulted roof was constructed from bespoke steel curved rafters, braced with raking “tree” members, all fashioned from trapezoid profiles. These supported the primary longitudinal sections which connected to a double curvature, curtain wall head beam, supporting a 78 meter wide, 630m2 curved glass curtain wall.

The roof structure included an expansive skylight measuring 192m2, formed from the longitudinal sections and curved trapezoid rafters.

The Food Court featured the largest suspended glass floor ever constructed in a shopping centre in South Africa, measuring 56m2. The “floating” glass floor was constructed from steel box sections fixed to an 820x500mm steel curved edge beam with an unsupported span of 20 meters.

The Food Pods were debuted in this development. These were new concept interactive eateries unique to Gateway Theatre of Shopping. The Food Pods featured “floating” helical aluminium spiral elements, draped over stainless-steel extractor ducts, designed to cascade from the steel roof structure.

The Food Court featured a 240m2, kaleidoscopic façade cladding, designed from geometrically placed triangular teak panels, supported by an intricate steel subframe, all set at individual unique angles. Due to the highly complex geometries involved, this could only be realized through the use of 3D modelling software.

The external area featured a bespoke, steel supported tensile structure and a 2-meter wide point-fixed cantilever walkway. Leading to a bridge spanning 20 meters, it surrounded and crossed a feature sunken garden. These elements were all designed from bespoke steel sections clad in composite timber decking.

How the project team worked together

The project team worked extremely well and successfully together. This was primarily due to the extensive use of cutting edge software solutions and significant, coordinated collaboration with the fabricators and Contractors, from project initiation and throughout the design and construction process.


Project motivation editorials are provided by the project nominator. If any technical details, company names or product names are incorrect, please notify the SAISC so that the error can be corrected.


Physical address of the project 

Street Address Town 


1 Palm Boulevard Umhlanga Rocks Durban 


Google Maps link 



Completion date of steelwork 


Completion date of full project 


Tonnage and steel profiles used 

Tonnage not available, bespoke profiles used as well as standard profiles 




Impendulo Design Architects (Pty) Ltd

Client/ Developer

Old Mutual Properties


Impendulo Design Architects (Pty) Ltd

Structural Engineer

Tobell Stretch and Associates


Tobell Stretch and Associates

Quantity Surveyor


Project Manager


Main Contractor


Steelwork Contractor Primary

Avellini Bros

Steel Erector Primary

Avellini Bros

Steelwork Contractor Tensile

Mtt Structures

Steel Erector Tensile

Mtt Structures

Cladding Manufacturer Sheeting

Global Roofing Solutions

Cladding Supplier Sheeting

Global Roofing Solutions

Cladding Contractor Sheeting

Impact Engineering

Cladding Manufacturer Panels

Façade Solutions

Cladding Supplier Panels

Façade Solutions

Cladding Contractor Panels

Façade Solutions

If you were a part of this project, and your company details are incorrect or missing – please notify the SAISC so that the error can be corrected.