Cape Town and Johannesburg have invested in radically innovative urban regeneration. The two metropolises, over 1000km apart from one another, are now beacons of inspirational light for other South African cities to follow through with a similar venture. Slap bang in the middle, on the beautiful Kwazulu-Natal coastline, lies the iconic port city of Durban. Apparently, the rejuvenation trend has found a place in the precinct of Rivertown, now the hub of a “#Durbanism” urban intervention.
There is an exciting buzz in the air in downtown Durban. One can see the transformation happening on a continual basis. In Rivertown, the pathway to urban enlightenment is interconnected, and a great deal of people flock to these artisanal anomalies. Architecturally fascinating designs and decor create a refreshingly alluring environment, and Rivertown can be proud to showcase something to reflect that.
The trend of disrupting decriped urban spaces by encouraging communal creativity and entrepreneurship is happening in this renovated neighbourhood. For the first time in many years, foot traffic is returning to Durban’s inner city.
Durbanism - Morrison Street Origins
The epicentre and arguably most popular regeneration zone of Rivertown could be found in Morrison street, 8 Morrison Street to be precise.
Firstly, a round of applause should be directed at Jonathan Liebmann. The man who saw the vision of creating a modern, innovate and community-driven neighbourhood in downtown Johannesburg turned his dream into Maboneng. He then set his sights onto the worn out industrial stagnicity of Morrison Street in Durban. The perfect spark for his flame? 8 Morrison Street, an industrial warehouse which was transformed into a weekly artisanal food market - the only “inner-city” offering of it’s kind Durban.
Durbanism is alive and well in this curiously crafted confine. Simply named “The Morning Trade” (Now operating at 15 Station Drive), the communal Sunday morning gathering brought in entrepreneurs from all over Durban and surrounds to present their creative culinary expertise on a platter of cuisine. From organic farm produce and homemade speciality bread to some of the best coffee in Durban and a host of craft foods on the go, the occasion was truly something that every Durbanite could enjoy.
The latest Durbanism upgrade to the whimsical warehouse is noted in the “pods” that complete the ground floor of the complex. These segmented, very modern office spaces are rustic in design and compliment the entirety of the warehouse’s model. These spaces have been retrofitted to attract entrepreneurs and startups to perform their daily business operations. With a coffee shop, roastery, and bar on site, 8 Morrison Street can serve as a platform for synergy and business relationships - tying in with Liebmann’s flagship vision.
Durbanism - Rivertown Beerhall
The Rivertown Beerhall is a vibrant brewery, art museum and place of historical interest. Stooped in decades of arbitrary use, the place is now serving beer to the consumer for the first time in over 50 years - part of the overall vision to “regenerate” the urban facilities of Rivertown. The happenings at the Rivertown Beerhall flourish in the raw idea of Dubanism culture with the offerings that they bring to the table.
Not only for the consumption of a variety of local beers, the building is also commonly used as a live entertainment venue, catering to the music lovers of Durban. In the past the have collaborated with The Morning Trade venue, encouraging the public to shop for their favourite craft foods and bring it to an urbanised picnic on the lawn area of the hall.
The location, in addition to beer and music, serves as a depot for art exhibitions. Most notably, “Informal Studio: Marlboro South”, “Ecology. Design. Synergy”, “Poster Exhibition” and “Rivertown Exhibition”. These events have established the greater Rivertown area as a syndicate of urban renewal. An exhibition that was set up in August of 2014 entitled “Beer Hall: Through The Times” commented on the evolution of the building’s use, from its origin to being the so called communication space of the Durbanism revolution.
Durbanism - Rivertown Residency
Similar to Maboneng, Rivertown’s abundance of urban renewal projects has attracted business owners and a growing consumer market. The knock on effect? Trendy Durbanites are wanting to make a home out of the renovated neighbourhood.
To compliment this demand, an impressive development has been constructed and is in the stages of post-refurbishing, advertising and marketing the property. Pixley House has since been crowned the “jewel of the city”.
The urban apartment block is around the corner from Morrison street, and has been integrated into the greater plan of revamping Rivertown and the Durban CBD. The ultra modern condos will appeal to the youthful, up-and-coming urban dwellers.
Contemporary design is the lifeblood of Pixley House, and the consistency of modern living can be noted from the first floor all the way through to the penthouse. Infusing the underlying concept of “art deco architecture”, this 115 unit apartment building starts the average bidding at R360 000 per condo.
The video below was shot at the Pixley House Launch:
Well done Durban, you have gathered your collective creative strategy and strengths to create a truly innovate community. If anybody wants to embrace the true spirit of Durbanism, Rivertown is place to be - be a part of this trending scene and support the future of the city.