Durban, is a city ready to shine. As a planned host of the 2022 Commonwealth Games, a boost of interest was seen in the city, and even now, since it was announced that Durban would be pulling out of the event, the property market is still booming and some of the most prominent developments on the African continent are still being built. Durban (Africa’s busiest port and the southern hemisphere’s biggest container terminal) is working on a long term 2030 development vision plan, and much of the major construction in and on the outskirts of the city have been fast tracked. More than 15 million square meters are under development and other infrastructure developments and upgrades include extension of the promenade and all surrounding roads, public transportation networks and water and electricity channels.
One of the most prominent projects underway is Umhlanga Arch on the North Coast. Designed by Craft of Architecture “COA”. The development is prominently positioned on the slopes of Umhlanga’s Ridgeside and have admirable sea views. The development will encompass 45 000sqm of residential and commercial facilities including a hotel, retail centre, offices and 163 apartments. The sentiments expressed by CBRE, the leading global real estate services provider, commented that “Umhlanga is one of the top 20 real estate regeneration projects in the world”.
The development is due for completion in early 2020, where “the project will service well-heeled young professionals in a vibrant, mixed-use district with round-the-clock activities based on sustainable development strategies” states John van Wyk, partner of COA. The Arch was specifically envisioned as a true mixed-use development as opposed to a more traditional approach of residential scheme. The vision includes a new lively environment that is planned to be green, walkable and cycle-friendly. Van Wyk continues “The goal was to create something human, vibrant and very strong in character. A development which lends itself to place-making, the real art of creating a sense of community, where businesses and residents are fully integrated to support each other to exist in a perfect symbiosis.”
The developments and use of digital tools in the construction phase has helped the project on efficiency and productivity. These tools were initially designed for optimizing the design and construction but now offers a fully integrated tool which is used to assist keeping projects sustainable and create a better economical overview. Building Information Modelling (BIM) is fully utilized in Graphisoft’s product ArchiCad which is used for this project and Virtual Design and Construction (VDC). This has made it possible to simulate the exact and detailed construction process day by day throughout the entire process. It is hereby possible to identify all potential routes for optimization in order to save time and building materials and predict possible collision conflicts. COA, Think3DLAB and Graphisoft (ArchiCad) aim to be the companies in the forefront with regards to using VDC experience. A huge amount of time and resources are saved by implementing this kind of modelling in advance of the actual construction of the structures.
Also, for presentation purposes a Virtual Reality Tour has been created to give everyone a perfect introduction to the development, both for android and apple smart phone users.
Umhlanga Arch will support the strategy of creating determined and well thought out investment in infrastructure and will contribute to making Durban into a benchmark and a model to look up to for cities in the African region and beyond. This investment coupled with long range city planning has led the city-state to attract and create economic opportunities for the businesses and people that call South Africa home. Further, these investments are laying a strong foundation for tomorrow’s Africa while ensuring that it remains globally relevant and is a pioneer of the next generation.
COA is an award winning architecture company founded in 2006 by partners Ian Gray, John van Wyk and Michael Korycki. Projects undertaken include a portfolio, ranging from master planning and urban design, single and multi-residential, hotels and lodges, commercial and mixed use, interiors and brand architecture, retirement estates, educational and sports facilities as well as bridges and infrastructure. Projects span many countries and they have offices in both Cape Town and Durban currently employing more than 30 architects, designers and planners with a more recently added interior design arm. They share a belief of craft – filtering down to the last degree – from concept to final product. It is this hands on philosophy that is evident in their work; valuing the creative process above all else places a strong emphasis on a collaborative approach. For more information, visit www.coasite.com