Treasures of Durban: Architecture

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Durban is home to over 3.5 million people; who share many cultures, religions and lifestyles. There are so many wonderful and unusual things to do in Central Durban that one is often left confused as to what treasures lay within our majestic city. Due to the mesh-up of the views of 3.5 million individuals in an area of 885 square metres, the best treasures aren’t hidden but gleaming high above us all. These treasures are made of glass, wood, cement and even granite; yes; Durban’s greatest strength lies in the many buildings that have shaped our past and is defining our future as one of the most culturally and architecturally diverse city in South Africa.

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From the first three storeys Carneys Building being built in 1865 to the majestic glory of Moses Mabhida Stadium being erected in late 2009; there’s something for every individual to enjoy. Durban started as Port Natal, with its strong British influence being portrayed in both its people, style and emerging architecture. 101 Victoria Embankment portrayed a truly regal style with its glistening windows and adorned columns in gold and green. 1985 brought about 88 on Field, the signature emerald green and blue windowed tower glistening in the auburn sun of our beautiful city. The greatest impact of these bulging treasures is that some even built before the 1899 are still serving a greater purpose even now. One such example is the Durban Country Club that plays home the Rovers. The majestic red bricked Old Train Station is still alive and reminiscent between the new outlines of the Transnet Building.

The greatest architectural feat is the Play House Theatre built in the 1920’s. The intricate carved details, painted ceilings and polished stairways make it a marvel for any visitor. Barclays Bank now known as Eagle House and City Hall cemented our dedication and persistence in challenging the depths of perception and aesthetics of our city.

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By 1910, the city was beginning to fill up on moulded cascades of history. Gilded stairways, double volume entrances and polished granite floors made fashion now melt into the City of fun. To keep up with the demand for refined and simple, clean lies, Durban again raised the standard with the introduction of modern silhouettes and glistening crystal and fragile lighting. Coastlands in 1979 set the pace for Durban to be on its way to the fast track. The movement had arrived and metal, glass and opulence was the order of the day. The great treasures of Durban were now evolving to the master pieces we’ve grown to admire and revel in. Y2K brought about the Millennium Tower, Sun Coast and the re-vamp of the ICC.

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With all this new international exposure, our city was starting to sparkle in all its glory. Alluring foreigners with its new lustre and shine, our sparkling colours and intricate designs cemented our wealth as a growing city. 2009 brought about the biggest and most striking architectural marvel our city has ever seen, the Moses Mabhida Stadium. This glorious masterpiece is pure metal in all its glory, illuminated from every angle. Durban certainly has many great gems on offer, from the old Colonial Mutual Building, Howard Campus, Sun Coast and uShaka. A treasure might be something we all define as wealth, gems or a wooden box we dig up under a huge X, but none compares to the great treasure, knowledge and amazement we get every time we see the lights shine through a stained widow, a waterfall emitted from a dolphins mouth or a swing through our grandest stadium.

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Our city has grown in both its diversity and style over the many years, the one things thats certain is that every time I walk past one of our many marvellous buildings I get a little skip in my step, my heart beats just a little faster and I feel more enriched than before. If you’ve been a resident of Durban or if you’re doing some touring, do yourself a favour and take a tour of the many forgotten as well as the many newly extravagant buildings that have the privilege of vastly enriching us all.