First African Retail center made from shipping containers


27 Boxes, the rise of pop culture in architecture

Firs09_41_32-1861_blog_imaget of its kind in Africa, the 27 Boxes mall in Melville Johannesburg is sure to set a new trend and place Johannesburg in the forefront of unconventional architecture. One can wonder about the use of shipping containers besides shipping, comes in Citiq Property Managers with this sublime architectural design and innovative property development.

Launched on the 1st of July, 27Boxes is built entirely from shipping containers, the first of its kind in Africa. The design combines shipping containers, garden plants and rolling lawns, together with other brick and concrete elements for a different look.

The reason behind the shopping centre being called 27 boxes was because the bigger containers are 27 square meters in size. The concept was adopted from shipping container developments being done in Europe and the founders of 27boxes decided that this model would be relevant in South Africa. If you’ve been around Melville you will know that it is well known for it’s bohemian style and culture and this mall fits right into this Joburg suburb. With a wide range of offerings, one can find art, coffee roasteries, ice-cream shops, furniture, clothing and a whole lot more.

“We had extremely limited funds. It continued to rain. As we went [dug] down, we got rock, which delayed the project. We’ve never done a retail development and this one took me by surprise at how long it would actually take,” explained Arthur Blake, MD at CITIQ PROPERTY DEVELOPMENT

In most townships in South Africa, shipping containers have for the longest time been used as spaza shops, salons and sometimes even housing, having such a model being redefined and developed to be used as an upmarket mall, is quite interesting.

The 27 Boxes mall, a Citiq development has about 78 shops and 150 underground parking bays. The architectural design of the shopping centre is planned to mirror the vibrant, trendy vibe that has made Melville famous, transforming the suburb “into a bespoke shopping centre and parkland”, Citiq CEO Paul Lapham.

The preliminary cost of the development was estimated to be at around R12 million but we have learnt that the completion of the mall has costed the developers around R30 million.

According to Lapham, “27 Boxes will not be a normal retail development,” The retail shops will be small, with an average 14m² in space and rentals ranging from R2 800 to R4 800 per month, much more affordable than retail space in, suburbs like Sandton and Rosebank. Entrepreneurship is on the rise and it only makes sense that we start developing more and more models that allow entrepreneurs to further their businesses, in the most affordable way possible.