Denis Hurley fought for equality of all and social justice. In 1951, at age 31, he became the youngest Catholic bishop in the world and the archbishop of Durban. He retired as archbishop in 1992, becoming chancellor of the University of Natal from 1993 to 1998. He continued to work as parish priest of Emmanuel Cathedral well into his eighties. He was an outspoken opponent of apartheid and a driving force in a 1957 declaration by the bishops of South Africa that described apartheid as “intrinsically evil”. Archbishop Denis Hurley dedicated a great part of his live to defend the rights of the underprivileged, in an extremely difficult and politically turbulent period in the history of this country. The Denis Hurley Centre strives to continue the legacy of Archbishop Denis Hurley.
Located in the vibrant centre of Durban, a few steps from Warwick Triangle and Victoria Street Market, the Denis Hurley Centre was conceived as a contemporary facility to uplift and serve the community – a welcoming refuge to all community members regardless of background, faith or nationality. The diverse and multifunctional character of the building reflects the complexity, vibrancy and dynamism of the context and its users – a catalyst to provide hope and aid to those most in need and a living memory of Archbishop Denis Hurley.
Utilising the nature of the triangular site to create interconnected spaces around a centralised atrium, the design of the building reinforces the Denis Hurley Centre’s aim for an integrated community space, open to all. The building envelope has been designed to act as a breathable skin, maximising natural light and natural ventilation, whilst protecting it from direct sun penetration. The highly reflective curtain wall creates subtle reflections of the Cathedral, bringing contemporary and heritage architecture together in harmony.
The Denis Hurley Centre is on small and complex site, adjacent to a heritage icon – Emmanual Cathedral, which provides inspiration the contemporary building – highly responsive to its context, climate and community.
LOCATION: Durban, South Africa
ARCHITECTS: Ruben Reddy Architects
PHOTOGRAPHS: © Ruben Reddy Architects