Next Project

The Development Forum: Generating A Sustainable Future

Part 2 Project 2002
Leonie Mervis
Martin Back
University of KwaZulu-Natal Durban | South Africa


In the South African City a sustainable future can be generated through an environment of communication and interaction.

The proposed Development Forum is such an environment - an interface between the public and organisations involved with development and democracy (NGOs, educators and government). The design objectives are community development through education and the provision of development related services (aid and information).


The D.F. is located in Warwick Triangle Precinct, the trade and transport centre of Durban's inner city. The dynamic juxtaposition of vibrancy, urban decay and diverse cultures gives this precinct its unique character.

The proposed urban design framework creates a 'humane' city relating to human activities and experiences. It reinforces, interconnects and redefines existing activities and movements in the area, catalysing the regeneration of the Precinct.


The Development Forum is generated out of this context and is a vital component in the framework - a generator of information, support and outreach.

The underlying concept is that of open communication - creating a building that is interactive, accessible, expressive, flexible, legible, inclusive and contextual.


These concepts form the basis of the aesthetic, spatial planning and technical detailing of the building.

The building integrates social, economic and environmental development. It demonstrates various building materials and energy efficient environmental controls. The construction process provides a training opportunity for the community.

The Development Forum makes a statement about the importance of people, place and communication.

Leonie Mervis
Martin Back

The design project entitled "The Development Forum" excellently embodies architecture in the South African context. The context of this site, in the heart of the African City, lies in the vibrant interaction of movement, informal commerce and residency.

The dire need for urban and social upliftment within the chosen precinct is answered architecturally through a multifaceted building engaging with the existing movement patterns of the area. Pedestrians are encouraged through and between the built form at ground level while, at various elevated positions, the building is penetrated by vehicular traffic accessed via an existing elevated highway.

The author cleverly uses materials, form and volume to create a building that is legible to the user, while being architecturally expressive and explorative. Rigorous research of the topic has lead to the design of a facility that is aptly appropriate to the needs of the area with clear and concise planning decisions making it accessible to the user. The functions provided encourage the social development within an otherwise repressed neighbourhood.

The presentation of the project in terms of graphics and the choice visual material is of the highest standard. The submission is deemed to be meritorious in its entirety.

• Page Hits: 4649         • Entry Date: 03 July 2002         • Last Update: 03 July 2002