The Description & Objectives of Canal Walk Shopping Center in Cape Town

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Words: 1155 |

Pages: 3|

6 min read

Published: Mar 3, 2020

Words: 1155|Pages: 3|6 min read

Published: Mar 3, 2020

The reasons for people visiting Canal Walk Shopping Center would be for various ones, other than shopping, an example of leisure, to eat and socialize, interacting with other people and so on. The average, not so wealthy person mainly visits the center simply because the entry is free and open to all, it is a safe, pleasant and is a comfortable environment to pass time in. Canal Walk appears to be open to all public, but it is not a public place, it is privately owned and conversation as to whether it is public or privately-owned space is under discussion to this day, some may even refer to it as controlled space (Reyes, 2016).

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These things are planned, structured and managed in a way that influences the lives of individuals. Shopping is a way of life around the world and the city of Cape Town’s community is no excuse. Sociologists have gone as far as to comparing these planned retail spaces as ‘colonizing other private spaces’ because shopping is and has become a way of life for many people. Canal Walk’s location was perfectly planned out as a strategic beacon that would appeal to the targeted buyer. Clear examples of this can be seen at Canal Walk with respects to the layout and its shop selection. One can easily see that they have put the bigger more common shops (Anchor Stores) on the outskirts of the center near the entrances but it still makes you walk past a couple of other shops that appeal to your daily needs (Woolworths and checkers).

The types of retailers that are in in this center are usually high-end establishments which are specifically situated there to attract tourists (H&M, TOP MAN). The tourist market is very beneficial as they are known to be big spenders especially with the way our economy is going at the moment. Some may say that these retailers are for the rich and high-class citizens, a type of social group for the middle to upper class. Certain techniques are used to communicate this message, a great example of this would be, the use of architecture and other techniques of social control (Reyes, 2016). When one has a look at the visual design of the mall inside and outside it gives a message which says, "playground for the rich".

The surrounding areas include the Marriot and Colosseum Luxury Hotels as well as the new luxury developments that have just gone up there, promoting the entire area as an exclusive space, it embodies a specific set of social values which states that it is a space that is reserved for a few. This is a perfect example of how a supposed public space is adjusted by people with money. Not only is the behaviour of people adjusted, but their individuality is too.“In reality, public spaces are a battleground for social control. When it comes to shopping centers, on the one side we have the owners of the property which enforce their drive on what is actually really public spaces and then on the other side is the public which notices these spaces as a public entity”. (Reyes, 2016).

Canal Walk is one of those spaces that links between a public entity and privately owned space. The one main objective when designing shopping malls is to give visitors such an incredible one of a kind experience that they spend maximum time shopping or window-shopping. In other words the design of the shopping center must encourage consumers to spend time and money at its most.Canal Walk was designed with the intention to move away from the customs of old-fashioned typical architecture. It focused more on visual visibility. One of the other main focusses is on tourism of course as Cape Town is known for the flow of tourists. So basically the design was shaped according to the unpredictable flow of money. Another issue which is not easily visible, but quite obvious is the design of spatial control.

The objective of Canal Walk is to show that control in its design. The management of canal walk is required to set a suitable standard of behaviour. The design of the center portrays an air of sophistication, it could in a sense discourage those that are not medium to upper class, simply because they would feel out of place.From observations that I have made over the years of shopping there, it has become clear to me that people are not only shopping or “window-shopping” but they actually set out to spend a couple of hours in the center, which includes eating and buying luxury items as a means to “spoil” themselves. In my opinion, people do become victims of Canal Walk.However, modern trends must be considered, people are slowly starting to shop online and are better informed about products and prices and choose to buy only the products and services required (May, 2017).

It is no secret that shopping centers are intentionally planned and designed for aesthetics, it must also have the best visual exposure to all the well-known brand names such as (Woolworths, Edgars, Game, etc.). These brands and others make sure that the trendiest items, or state-of-the-art electronic devices prices are displaying the best deals, this is especially done to influence the minds of buyers.If we really look closely at the design of the Canal Walk, one could say it is prison-like. It appears open to all sides, but it has a lack of entrances. It is an intimidating design, it is designed like a prison with shops lining the interior like prison cells, it is designed only for consumption and movement. The idea is to convey a message that suggests that only shoppers with money are welcome. The type by those in power (the owners of malls) is everybody welcome as long as he or she has money to spend, in other words, the social structure of shopping, is that those that own and those that have money to spend are welcome.

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Another factor to take into consideration is that these malls have security features (especially those security officers patrolling) which conveys the message that this is a space which is heavily "guarded" and the only behaviour that is allowed is that of spending money. Although Canal walk has comfortable seating in the food section, there aren’t really places to rest, the resting places are designed in such a way that they are not too comfortable to encourage people to walk and continue shopping. ConclusionCanal walk users as well as all shoppers are fascinated by the aesthetics of the interior; it influences the individual to experience a false excitement of wellbeing which translates into a "nice" shopping experience. A person starts to believe he/she is able to afford the luxurious items which are displayed to entice the buyer.People are drawn into the world of the privatized public spaces such as the Canal Walk Mall, they have a sense of expression of freedom.

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The Description & Objectives of Canal Walk Shopping Center in Cape Town. (2020, February 27). GradesFixer. Retrieved June 16, 2024, from
“The Description & Objectives of Canal Walk Shopping Center in Cape Town.” GradesFixer, 27 Feb. 2020,
The Description & Objectives of Canal Walk Shopping Center in Cape Town. [online]. Available at: <> [Accessed 16 Jun. 2024].
The Description & Objectives of Canal Walk Shopping Center in Cape Town [Internet]. GradesFixer. 2020 Feb 27 [cited 2024 Jun 16]. Available from:
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