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Concierge Boutique Hotel and Freedom Café
Durban, KwaZulu-Natal

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ARCHITECTURE FABRIK: Architect
DON ALBERT and PARTNERS: Architect

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Date:2010
Type:Hotel
Status:Extant


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29°50'19.67" S 31°01'08.87" E Alt: 15m
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Award for Architecture Citation

The uniformity of scale, the row houses and lanes prompted the declaration of Greyville Village as a heritage area in the late 1980s.

Four row houses each lining two parallel lanes were identified for a hotel development. The backyards were consolidated as the guest parking area and at the head was placed the reception area and restaurant. The historic row houses were reconfigured as en-suite bedrooms with landscaped verandas and road frontages, while an eye-catching construction, the crossing of a sawn-through container and a glass pavilion with outdoor seating under historic trees was chosen for the reception.

The jury considered this a deft intervention and commended especially the urban regenerative effect the project is having on the enclave.

Award for Excellence Citation

The Concierge Boutique Hotel and Freedom Cafe are undoubtedly context driven, presenting themselves as direct responses to the immediate urban context through the perforation of the facade, creating a connection that allows for passive surveillance and perceived safety. The space lends itself to incrementally diverse activities that are possible within its urban context and enhances this physically through the use of a centralised activity courtyard. The courtyard is not dependent on the function of the development, but lends an interactive public edge to the hotel and the cafe.

The restoration and rehabilitation of the historically semi-detached dwellings into a boutique hotel, through modifying the facades and generally applying contemporary interior design principles and materials, has culminated into a captivating interpretation of history being celebrated, retained and firmly rooted in the 21st century. This is succinctly achieved through the use of current aesthetics to satisfy modern day needs of the hospitality industry.

The collective refurbished semi-detached buildings are roped together to a shipping container structure - the Freedom Cafe that is the focus of a central publicly active courtyard. It is through this contrasting and contradicting marriage of shipping container and semi-detached units, that the entire development finds itself generating active public interest and patronage.

The construction technique explored through the container typology has been flawlessly executed in a subtle but powerful manner that demonstrates refined detailing and finishes. It creates a facility that demonstrates alternate building typology and also elevates this development as an international benchmark. The space generated through this interpretation of refurbishment, combined with its flawless alternative construction approach, is a rare achievement that is an event in urban space worth experiencing, enjoying and re-living.

All truncated references not fully cited below are those of Joanna Walker's original text and cited in full in the 'Bibliography' entry of the Lexicon.

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