There’s a brand new shop and office block on the corner of 7th Street and Kwame Nkrumah Avenue in Harare called Samalex Mall. This part of the City is a mix of older blocks of flats, some even older houses, shops, workshops, bars, nightclubs and restaurants. While some of the existing buildings are still used as residential spaces others have been converted or renovated to businesses with varying degrees of success.
The new mall, constructed by Gladorn Contractors, looks fresh, smart and modern, in contrast to most of the surrounding structures. It certainly helps to uplift the area and hopefully there will be similar upgrades and developments in the near future. Gladorn Contractors has provided a great example of how the older parts of ‘The Avenues’ can be brought back to life and turned into more desirable spaces to live and work.
The smallish corner property originally had an older house built on it (probably from the 20s or 30s) which had been neglected over the years and fallen into a bad state of disrepair. In addition the old house had no outstanding architectural merit and being on the corner of two busy roads it was no longer a great place to live. The rundown old building was demolished and in its place Gladorn has two storey block of 1,240 m² – 628 m² on the ground floor and 612 m² on the first floor, connected by a central staircase. The building has a span of 42 metres of street frontage facing onto 7th Street with convenient paved parking on both 7th Street and Kwame Nkrumah. A row of palm trees across the street frontage will help to shade the building, offer some shelter for pedestrians and help to beautify the neighbourhood.
The 7th Street façade of the building is fairly minimalist and uncluttered consisting mostly of large glass windows and doors in bronze coloured anodised aluminium frames, offering shops on the ground floor the maximum window space to display their goods and attract attention from passing trade, whether from pedestrians or motorists. Once tenants have fully moved in logos, signage and attractive window displays will make the façade colourful and appealing. The front is broken by slim concrete pillars and a generous stairway leading to the first floor. The first floor windows are set slightly back so there’s a covered walkway in front – sort of a long verandah with simple, open, steel railings. The covered walkway also provides some shade for the top floor tenants as the building is east facing and gets the full morning sun. While the ground floor will be mostly shops the first for is ideally suited for office spaces. In fact, once completed, Gladorn Construction will have their own offices there!
Tenants on the ground floor will include some spares outlets for the motor trade, a hardware store and a pharmacy. The first floor tenants will include Gladorn Contractors and most likely a medical laboratory, an interior décor shop, an outlet for gas and appliances and an upmarket furniture supplier. The location and the structure are so attractive that almost all the space was snapped up by prospective tenants before the building was even complete.
The building was designed by Garikai Muzarurwi from GM Designs together with Godfrey Nyagato from Archstruct Engineering with Brownfields Property Consultancy as the project managers. Gladorn were the main contractors as well as supplying QS and procurement services and overseeing the subcontractors. The building is mostly brick, glass and aluminium under a Chromadek roof. (The roof was supplied and installed by Grid Transmission.) Work started in mid-2018 but was significantly hindered by the City of Harare’s long delay in granting planning permission. In addition the outbreak of the pandemic saw huge disruptions in both labour and material supplies. A Certificate of Occupation was finally given in March this year and the building is expected to be fully occupied by the end of April.
Gladorn Contractors has basically provided an empty shell so tenants come fit out and adapt the spaces to suit their requirements. All the units have suspended ceilings, a small bathroom area, a storeroom and space for a kitchenette. In addition each unit has its own pre-paid ZESA metre so there’s no disputes about individual payments. Water for the complex is supplied by Council but there are additional water tanks for storage and a borehole on site. There’s also 24 hour security so tenants can be assured of their personal safety and the safety of their assets and stock.
Gladorn Contractors was founded by Pardon Muchichwa in 2008 and initially operated informally on a smaller scale. The business was officially registered in 2018 and has continued to expand and grow rapidly since then. Just a few of their previous projects include work on a number of residential projects in Marlborough and Glen Lorne, tiling and cladding for Mandara Manor, Kashaya Estate renovations, refurbishments and construction, Spey Bay Resort gazebos and partitions and Meemy Lodge in Masvingo. They are currently working on a renovation project in 6th Street.
Gladorn Contractors can be contacted:
Address: New offices opening soon at Samalex Mall, cnr 7th Street and Kwame Nkrumah, Harare
Telephone: 0780051901, 0780051902, +263844289572
-text by Michael Nott
-photos by Structure and Design
-3D renders by Gladorn Construction