Durban Buildings & Architecture
It is telling that during the politically turbulent 1980s and the accompanying emergency legislation, the architecture of off-shutter, reinforced concrete fell from favour, replaced with hi-tech pristine glass curtain walls, shimmering and glistening, perhaps with hope for the future. However, the organisations whose buildings employed this kind of exterior were also leaving the city centre for greener pastures. Corporate buildings that desired an image of professionalism and efficacy were assisted in their leafy, decentralised settings by reflective glass to reduce solar gain in summer. Warehouses followed in their wake, relocating, for the most part, to industrial parks outside the city. At the same time, the energy crisis and inflation were forcing a re-appraisal of historical buildings for adaptive reuse, and central Durban responded by recycling the Victorian railway station and its workshops into a shopping centre. Political change had to come, and a few progressive individuals began to make courageous moves towards bringing it about in architectural terms, by, for example, providing for the establishment of a learning institution at uMlazi township, south of Durban. Key among these progressive local architects was Hans Hallen, who sadly emigrated from South Africa in 1989, just as democracy was within touching distance. But the standards he set for design and construction remain benchmarks for emulation.
Researcher: Prof. Walter Peters
Photographer(s): Angela BucklandRoger Jardine
Contributor(s): Lindsay Napier