The online portfolio and whimsical ramblings of Robert James Page

Some more Beautiful Conrete

In my last post, I wrote about my little class trip to Pietermaritzburg, and althought the Law building was by far my favourite, there are a few other buildings on that campus that are pretty rad too. Check it out:

On a related note, I've heard an as yet unconfirmed rumor that Zaha Hadid will be speaking at congress in Jo'burg this year. I may not her biggest fan, but I'm sure she has an insane wealth of knowledge to impart.

So here's holding thumbs!

PMB Campus Law Building

On Thursday I went with my class to Pietermaritzburg for the day and, believe it or not, there is actually a fair amount of interesting things to see in Maritzburg.

The reason we were there was to check out the site for our new design project, a fine arts school on the PMB, UKZN campus. Its a really interesting project and I'm pretty excited despite the daunting task of designing an entire faculty building.

I took a whole lot of photos while I was there, so I have a few things to share, but today's post is dedicated to the Campus's Law faculty building.


The campus is basically split down the centre by Golf Road, dividing it into the more traditional, main campus of mostly brick constructed buildings and the Golf Road campus comprising an assortment of incredibly sexy, brutalist concrete buildings of which the law building stuck out as my favourite.

I love the streaky old concrete and huge windows of the South-facing library and the brick infill panels and the planting around it and the stairwells and the symmetry and... Sho. Great stuff.

Hope you're having a great long weekend!

On a side note, I'm absolutely loving David Crowder at the moment. Certainly not your average worship band. So kiff.

Earth Hour

This is pure gold. The hypocrisy of it all literally blows my mind.

I stumbled across this article on IOL today that starts off:

Durban's Moses Mabhida Stadium will join other landmarks around the world in supporting Earth Hour 2010 when it is plunged into darkness for an hour on Saturday March 27.

The stadium will switch off its lights from 8.30pm to 9.30pm.

Yup. A whole hour. How generous of them to turn our glorious landmark's lights off when its not in use.

This is an issue very close to the heart of our esteemed mayor Obed Mlaba, he is quoted in the article as having said:

"Climate change will affect all of us and it is the poor who will suffer the most. We have a responsibility to our people to take action that reduces climate change and to call on others to do the same.

"It is in this spirit that the eThekwini municipality will be participating in WWF's Earth Hour 2010. If we are united in our call for action and we respond collectively, we can prevent dangerous climate change."
So thank you Durban. You're doing so much for the poor and for the earth by celebrating this wonderful hour of compassion. We get a whole hour.

But after that its back to having all the lights on for absolutely no reason but to draw attention to the giant piece of concrete that I suppose some people must have missed..

Sure its a very pretty piece of concrete, and I've enjoyed the wonderful atmosphere at the games played on its perfectly manicured pitch, but anyone who has driven past it at night will know that any day of the week, the constantly illuminated white basket of Moses Mabhida Studium declares her magnificent preeminence like some post modern sculpture on its massive pedestal.

So to me, in general Earth Hour seems to be a bit of farce. Like driving your Prius to the airport or using a photo voltaic solar panel to power the air conditioner. But, as a friend of mine said to me earlier, at least James Cameron will be happy.

But on that note, I really think James Cameron needs stick to ice bergs killing ships and stop focusing on people killing ice bergs..


The last two or three weeks have been a blur. This year is turning out to be even more demanding than the last and without God's unexplainable peace, which has been incredible, I'd be a total wreck. Thursday was my first hand in for the semester, and Friday followed with a pretty dismal set of results, but I look forward to a chance to right myself again next quarter.

Submission was completely hand draw, so I have no pictures to post of the project, although I'm not sure that I would either way, since the end results were rather disappointing..

Looking back on the project though, I must say I quite enjoyed it. I've learned a fair deal about how I respond to pressure (not very well) and been directed to do some pretty interesting research work.

The project was a Buddhist retreat for Port St. Johns, a small sea side town on the Wild Coast in the Eastern Cape. My main precedent study was of a retreat in Ixopo, an hour or so's drive from Durban. It's a really beautiful place that perfectly embodies the opening paragraph of Alan Paton's Cry the Beloved Country:

There is a lovely road that runs from Ixopo into the hills. These hills are grass covered and beyond any singing of it.

I took a few photos when we visited it about a month ago. There's certainly nothing architecturally outstanding about the place, but it has some serious vibe, and I found it an incredible example of just how strong a sense spirit or identity a certain place can have.