Durban Buildings & Architecture
Durban’s sprawling metropolitan area, with its rich cultural mix and diverse population, means that it is home to a large number of markets, each with its own idiosyncratic flavour. These markets often represent fine example of functionalism and architectural dynamism. In these design-intense environments, most of which have evolved organically before undergoing a degree of formalisation, there is architecture everywhere. Markets in Durban have tended to arise spontaneously on intermodal transport hubs, convenient uncontested open spaces or at paypoints. They tend to be well located, are initially constructed with makeshift stalls of crates and plastic, and, due to their unplanned nature and the concomitant lack of facilities, often represent public hygiene problems. At some point, markets are usually formalised, often by the local municipality but sometimes by market-workers themselves and also by private entrepreneurs. During this formalisation process, architects are faced with three key principles: the need to turn a well located problem into an opportunity, the need to provide roofing and display arrangements, and the need to design loosely – since the ultimate layout will always take care of itself! In South Africa, the informal economy represents a particularly large proportion of the national economy and the various forms of markets around the country represent an important source of income for many people, and also provide nutritious foodstuffs and vital services that might not be easily accessed otherwise. Additionally markets provide significant employment for women, who often fill marginal positions in the South African economy.
Ethekwini Municipality delivered the identified market projects in collaboration with numerous private sector architects.
Researcher: Rodney Harber
Photographer(s): Roger Jardine