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  • Justin Boyd

Victoria Embankment Urban Design

Commissioned by the City Architects (Department of Architecture and Building, Ethekwini) SOUND SPACE DESIGN provided a vision for the Victoria Embankment Urban Design study by using a new process of analysis and contemporary trans-discursive planning methods that rely on diagrams and open-ended means of conceptual discovery.

By subjecting a range of GIS information through a series of graphic filters, the design team was able to map out patterns of land use that were not ordinarily apparent. This process confirmed the existence of certain urban phenomena in some cases, and exposed totally new ones in others.

The central problem of the Victoria Embankment Urban Design, is that access to the bay’s water frontage has been severely restricted due to the imposition of the railway line in the 1930s. At the time of the creation of the Union, the City of Durban sold the waters edge to the State, and this has stripped Durban of a vital resource. To this day, the city of Durban has been in a constant struggle with Transnet, and the National Ports Authority, over shared infrastructure, especially with regards to public space. A number of schemes have been proposed, but none has yet been implemented.

The first step in our urban design process was to undertake a study of the studies to confirm their common goals and differences. The current proposal aligns itself with many former objectives, however its identification of overlapping precincts that have a deep connectivity towards their immediate and differing contexts at the micro scale was key to delivering a new functional agenda that relates to specific urban hinterlands (precincts) along the waters edge. By proposing new bulk targets and commensurate parking infrastructure, as well as the demolition of the Marine building in order to create a new landscape stretching from the City Hall to the Waterfront, the project would ensure that there is enough there, there.

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