Halsted’s new Borrowdale Branch

Retail showroom and contractors’ delight Halsted Builders Express (also incorporating Halsted Timber and Trusses) has just opened their brand new branch on the 1st of June this year. It’s situated at the corner of Alpes Road and Harare Drive in the rapidly growing business and retail district, which includes a number of other new developments, and promises to become a new shopping destination for Harare residents. (See Structure and Design issue 3 featuring the Storagemart project.) The location is ideally suited to serve customers from the northern suburbs, while it’s still conveniently accessible for home owners and shoppers from Westgate and Marlborough across to Greystone Park and Glen Lorne.

Final design specifications were handed out an 11 page brief to tender. Architextural Spatial Designs were chosen for final conceptualization and finished drawings. The team at Architextural Spatial Designs was led by Bruce Rowlands with Gemma Temlett as the supervising architect and Connor McCabe responsible for design detailing. Rowlands enjoys working on the designs for warehouses as they present an unusually large-scale canvas to play with. To clad this fairly standard warehouse with a functional yet appealing “skin”, Rowlands limited the design palette to a few select elements; Chromadek sheeting, clear sheeting, huge timber panels, shade cloth and signage panels. These were all composed into a facade that conveys a sense of uncluttered clarity. Despite the simplicity of its appearance, the facade design had to discretely serve several different purposes. The white Chromadek was used to visually soften the massiveness of the structure against the skyline and help to reduce solar heat gain.

The land was acquired around four years ago with future investment and development in mind and with the foresight that the area would soon be subject to rapid growth. The initial plans were fairly detailed including the different retail areas within the shop to ensure a good flow of foot traffic, extensive storage space, and the coffee shop and garden centre. Working closely with Turner and Townsend – project managers and quantity surveyors – the rough drawings were consolidated to fit the budget. The original plans were for a warehouse of 150m x 50m and were revised downwards to 96m x 46m of which 96m x 26m is dedicated retail space, while the rest is storage. Currently there’s around 1,000 sq/m of covered storage for a wide range of stock like timber, tiles and water sensitive powders like cement. The original plans also had to be revised to comply with safety regulations for the fire sprinkler system. Included in the main structure is 90 sq/m of office space set on a mezzanine floor above the front entrance.

The white is contrasted with the charcoal Chromadek, which being less attention attracting, was chosen to help hide the more unsightly loading areas. The timber panels use the familiar texture of saw cut planks to broadcast the nature of the building as a “hardware store”. These timber panels grandly announce the entrances and provide backing for the huge signage. However their less obvious but equally important role is to screen from view the ugly necessities such as plumbing pipework, aircon units, back-up water tanks, ablution blocks and ranks of shopping trolleys. The clear sheeting panels illuminate the internal spaces, significantly reducing the power load on the lighting. The shade cloth panels create a green-house over the garden centre.

Particular attention was paid to the design of the Garden Centre and the coffee shop – Freshly Ground. Large warehouse and retail spaces can be quite impersonal and cold so the garden section and the coffee shop help to make the space more friendly and appealing. It also means that families can make their shopping into a more interesting and fun experience. The interior of the coffee shop – designed by Debby Hart – is fun and funky and slightly eccentric with a ceiling made up of open umbrellas and easy chairs upholstered in ethnic print fabric. There’s also a very special Dulux Paint section within the shop which has an eyecatching and colourful display area. Here you’ll find a huge selection of paints in every colour you can think of, as well as varnishes and timber care, roof and stoep paints, and all related painting equipment. Because Halsteds caters for individual DIY customers as well as for larger building contractors there are separate entrances designed for both types of shoppers.

They’ve also provided convenient parking space in front of the shop for families or individual shoppers and a large paved area at the back designed for contractors’ heavy vehicles with bigger loads. Contractors have a separate gate and loading bays that don’t inconvenience smaller scale customers. Halsteds is by no means new to doing business in Zimbabwe with their first trading business opened in Bulawayo in 1897 under the name Halsted and Webb and later Halsted Brothers. For many years the main branches of Halsted Builders Express and Halsted Timbers was located in Workington and dealt mostly with building and plumbing contractors.

The Msasa branch was opened in 2014 and was their first venture into retail stores specifically designed to cater for home owners and DIY enthusiasts. They also have branches in Bulawayo, Mutare, Masvingo, and Kwekwe.They now stock around 17,000 different products including building materials, plumbing and electrical goods, tools, safety wear and gardening equipment, and even home appliances. They also stock a range of solar powered equipment and generators for alternative power supply. In fact they have everything building and home related for the individual home owner or the biggest building contractors.

Engineers and Project Managers in the felds of Civil Engineering services and roads, storm water drainage, water and sewage reticulation, sewage treatment and disposal, water treatment and supply, groundwater and agricultural development, Structural Engineering, Electrical Engineering, Building Services, Transportation systems and solid waste disposal. The frms archival material shows over 3000 projects completed in the 70 years the firm has been established in Zimbabwe. The firm has been involved and Engineered a signifcant number of buildings throughout the country including a signifcant number of the tall structures developed since Independence.

On the Halsted’s project BCHOD were appointed and undertook the design, documentation and supervision of the Civil, Structural (both concrete and steel) and Electrical content of the works. Shelvit (Pvt) Ltd is proudly associated with Halsted Builders Express – Borrowdale. Shelvit (Pvt) Ltd would like to offer our congratulations to Halsted Brothers on the opening of their new branch. Shelvit are the proud suppliers of the racking, display shelving, check-out counters and steel lockers for their new branch.


Text by Michael Nott

Photos by Michele Fortmann

Renderings and plans by Architextural Spatial Designs


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