Tour of Institut für Städtebau Berlin 2016
The German Academy for Urban and Regional Planning (Institut für Städtebau Berlin) have been on an urban planning field excursion to Durban, Johannesburg and Cape Town (2-11 April, 2016). The group included around 30 architects, engineers, urban planners and surveyors from government bodies, universities and private firms throughout Germany. The group was led by Dipl.-Ing. Harald Güther.
On 5 April, the Durban Art Deco Society hosted them to a presentation by Prof Franco Frescura at the KZN Institute of Architects, plus a bus-tour to many of Durban's art deco landmarks. The events were organised by DADS committee member Shiney Bright, whose report follows:
Thanks to you all for making this event run smoothly and most enjoyably. Hats off to KZNIA for hosting us and giving the correct professional invitation which was greatly appreciated. I would like to share some of the highlights of the apres tour in the coach after Franco’s insightful lecture on the history and makeup of Durban.
The leader, Harald, was an “open” man, very relaxed and quick witted which set the tone of the group despite Helen’s heckling from the back row! (just joking). At Berea Court, Christian was his usual charming self and opened up two of the flats for us to inspect.
In one, 3 girls were looking very curiously at 33 people popping their heads round the door and inspecting the small flat. Harald came and greeted the girls and jokingly said he would take them to dinner that evening – so I told them to be sure to take him to Boulevard after which set them off in peals of laughter and Harald really enjoyed that. Some of the students from Umlazi were there and greeted everyone in good Zulu fashion with smiles and answered questions so they were beginning to feel the warmth of Durban despite the rain. At Surrey Mansions, we (Brigitte and I) explained about the development that has been stopped next to Surrey Mansions and they made a close inspection with photos. They loved Surrey Mansions and then Cynthia opened up the foyer for inspection.
They were very interested in the award-winning poster, approving our involvement with students, the curious numbering of the flats on the mail boxes, the “ice cream” colours, the old telephone booth amazed them and made lots of questions about the facilities of parking, only one lift etc. Harald said he wants to come and live here and Cynthia told him “But there is only one lift!” to which he replied “I only need one!”
Then to Carlisle Road where we got out and walked on the opposite side of the road to look up at the flats. I pointed out the temple at the end of the road and a man parking a car in front of us asked if we were interested in the temple. I explained what we were doing and he told us that his father had been born in one of the flats, the lady looking out of the window had moved in when the flats were new and had lived here ever since (maybe good for an interview?) and the trees were Dutch Apples with an edible fruit only found here and Avondale road. I told him the delegates were from Germany and he said he had just come back from a conference in Frankfurt for lighting so everyone laughed and thanked him for being so friendly.
There was heavy traffic on West Street and it would have taken us a good 20-30 mins to get through so we went down Broad Street and looked at the flats there. One lady in a flat opened the window and waved at us so everyone waved back with big smiles as Durban was doing what she does best.
It then started to rain quite heavily so we stopped at the Suncoast Casino after going around the front to see the entrance and then took a couple of group shots before Harald said goodbye and asked for my card as he is hoping to come again next year. Brigitte did an amazing job translating on a microphone which relayed to the headphones each of the people wore so it did not disturb the flow of the talk. Not an easy task to listen and talk at the same time – but then she is a woman. Thank you for your faith in me doing this tour as was sure they would ask lots of technical questions but they were more on the lines of our lifestyle.
Architects, engineers, urban planners and surveyors from the German Academy for Urban and Regional Planning (Institut für Städtebau Berlin) ending their bus tour of Durban's art deco landmarks at the Suncoast Casino.
Ruben Reddy, president of the KwaZulu-Natal branch of the South African Institute of Architects, welcomes delegates to the SAIA KZN headquarters in Durban.