The Society

The Durban Art Deco Society (founded in 1999) is a small group of enthusiastic people who try to encourage owners of Art Deco style buildings to be aware of their Art Deco heritage, offer advice on restoration / repainting, and organise lectures / tours, etc.  The society also has a room at Surrey Mansions where archival information and their collection of books about Art Deco are kept – this is open to members and interested persons at specific times.

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The Buildings

Durban has a number of very fine examples of this important style, mostly residential blocks built between 1930 and 1940, and include among others: Broadwindsor and Manhattan Court in Dr Yusuf Dadoo Street; Enterprise Building in Samora Machel Street; Victoria Mansions and Willern Court on Margaret Mncadi Avenue; Berea Court on Berea Road, Cheviot Court in Musgrave Road and Surrey Mansions in Currie Road.

For a virtual tour of the city's Art Deco heritage visit the Durban Deco Directory or download our architecture fact sheet.

The Context

A characteristic of Durban’s Art Deco buildings is the pilasters which are round or square pillars attached to the building. They go the whole height of the building getting more and more enriched with elements of fauna, flora, fish and birds, some mythical creatures, and sometimes finishing with crenelations. The purpose of this device is to carry your eyes up the building and it works very well. Many of them have well designed courtyards or back of building stairwells. We have two buildings with a zigzag design on the building, the earliest style.