The online portfolio and whimsical ramblings of Robert James Page

Durban Beach Front (Curio Stalls)

A staple of the Durban beach front has always been the pavement market stalls, with sellers of African beadwork and made-in-china toys and curios. Although, perhaps not always the most authentic of African phenomena, these people certainly make their living selling tourists the kind of sculpture and paintings they need to give their Californian houses just that slight ethnic touch.

Either way, as part of the redevelopment project, the old tattered thatch and wattle pergolas have been pulled down from the pavements and some rather attractive new timber and galvanized steel ones erected in their place.

I noticed two distinctly different designs: one at Bay of Plenty, and the other further along, just above the new fan park. The former strikes me as the better considered of the two, a single support element acts as light fitting, down pipe and structural member. A simple concrete storage space is provided for the venders which can be locked at night. The stalls are arranged ad hock, funneling traffic between them, giving an organic market feel to the space.

The second set of stalls are arranged in a line against the edge of the pavement allowing traffic to move past each stall, and although this gives each of the sellers street access, it doesn't encourage any of the interacting the Bay scheme does. The design is not as concise as the previous one, with separate light fixture elements and down pipes, and timber clad storage cells. Although the two clearly speak the same language, these feel a lot more chunky and disproportionate, and seem to cluster uncomfortably together.

Its hard to believe the World Cup is nearly over. Two more days and we'll have a winner, the crowds of foreigners will be gone, and we can start to see the real impact that's been had on our beautiful city.

Durban Beach Front (Addington)

Every now and then I get a bit sentimental and think that, since I've lived in Durban my whole life, I really SHOULD be able to surf.

I own a surf board. Kinda. So yesterday was one of those days, and I headed down to Addington Beach, where the waves are small and manageable and had a go. Suffice to say I had a good time, the details aren't important.

The upgrades to beach down there are pretty damn awesome though. They've built (or rather, are finishing building) a new surf lifesaving and medics' building. I'm really liking the concrete/brick/aluminium materiality that runs through most of the new interventions. This one brings in an extra, feature element of coloured bricks, which I think looks really great!

The bathrooms are really well considered. The cisterns are built into the walls, there are no seat covers to broken or stolen, and pretty much everything looks as if it can simply be hosed down in one go whenever they get dirty, which, if you've ever used a beach front public toilet, you'll know to be a very important scheme.

Quick music recommendation: Johnny Flynn. I'm really into the whole London Folk scene at the moment. There are a lot of really great artists coming out of there. There's something special about folk artists from big cities. Check him out. Really good stuff.

Durban Beach Front (Site office?)

Although, as I said in my last post, my cynicism for the World cup has waned considerably, what comes up a lot in conversations about all the new development is just what are we going to do with all the new infrastructure once its all over.

Some of the larger new buildings are a bit of a concern especially: can we expect a massive revival of the use of these spaces, or are we to be stuck with a beautiful promenade of empty, degrading white elephants..

This particular intervention has me totally confused. What is it? To me it looks like a site office with a bit of cosmetics, but its not being used for anything right now.. Perhaps a crafts stall like the ones further up the beach. But why just one? Either way, the faux African wattle canopy is a bit cheesy, which is unfortunate, because on the whole the rest of the new development seems to have subtly steered away from such sentimentality quite nicely.

Excuse the bottom left corner photo. I took that on my way to the fan park for the first game. I was a little excited to say the least, and most of the pictures from that night are pretty blurry.

Durban Beach Front (Moyo)

The past few weeks have been pretty incredible. I was quite cynical of the World Cup and all the wealth and abundance it promised to provide our country, but now, half way through the tournament I'm absolutely loving it!

Durban's never looked cleaner, safer and more alive! The effects are most evident along the beach front. I've been down there quite a lot lately, at the fan park, watching bands, enjoying the beach; and I had a camera with me the last few times, so the next few posts will focus on the development in the area.

For now I'll include a really nice new little bar that's been build out on the pier just past Addington beach. I had a beer there the other day with a couple of friends. Its a really beautiful spot.

The beauty of a lot of the new development, and this building in particular, is in its simplicity, both in plan form and materiality, definitely a nice upgrade to the old blue and yellow tile cladding that was so characteristic of the old beach front buildings.

KSIA (Walkway)

A couple days ago I wrote about visiting the New King Shaka International Airport here in Durban. Over all I think it's really great, but there are a few features that stuck out at me a lot.

Linking the main circulation/interactive spaces and the parking areas is a really cool little covered walk way that passed under the road and out to the other side. I love how, in such contrast to the old airport, the whole complex is so considered and comfortable and it just feels really nice to move through.

In the middle of the section below the road is a large skylight which makes the whole tunnel feel really open and light. Above ground it manifests itself as a small glazed box with a small butterfly roof arrangement which mirrors the main parking garage. Its a really cool feature, but the green glass is so trashy. It's all over the airport and really ruins a lot of the buildings. It's such a shame, but I suppose it is Tongaat!