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Durban: A Pictorial History by Ian Morison

R 370
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Struik Publishers, Cape Town, 1987. Hardcover with dust jacket. Book Condition: Good. First Edition. A Photographic record of the changing face of the city of Durban with the emphasis on its buildings.144 pages text with nostalgic illustrations."During the course of compiling this book I became very sad that so many great and beautiful buildings had been demolished, in many instances to make way for rather ugly and characterless architecture which regrettably dominates the skyline today. Most cities of the world have salvaged important buildings or at least their facades and it is shameful that the 1970s saw the wanton demolition of many fine buildings in central Durban.Fortunately, and thanks to an enterprising City Council, bold steps have been taken since 1980 to preserve as much of old Durban as possible. To this end the Council has established a Conservation Awards Committee for the sole purpose of presenting owners of buildings with a plaque so that restoration and conservation of old Durban can be promoted and encouraged. The Natal Provincial Administration, too, are to be congratulated for saving the Playhouse complex from oblivion. The most exciting restoration has been that of the old railway station and worksheds. Also the Greenacres facade has been kept to front a modern store and one can only rejoice that this exquisite reminder of more gracious times has been saved.While one cannot expect a growing city to retain old buildings, particularly single-storey or double-storey buildings when multi-storey buildings with modern facilities are clearly indicated, I believe that every city should think very hard before demolishing any old building which may have architectural or historical importance. Even a facade or feature such as columns or ornamentation should be jealously preserved if at all possible. Fortunately, Durban has a list of important buildings and places drawn up by Professor Kearney and demolition orders against such buildings or places are considered very seriously by the City Engineer. Alas, it is sometimes impossible to prevent demolition and a developer cannot be expected to preserve a building or a feature if the commercial aspect is seriously affected."* * * "Durban is a city in the American Tradition: still youthful by European standards, the old continually gave way to the new as the decades of the past century hurried along. Much that was gracious or quaintly charming, or of historical and architectural importance - or indeed with all these attributes - has gone forever. The process is inevitable, and understandable: a city is an entity that must change and grow if it is to prosper, perhaps even survive. Prosperity in a dynamically industrial society is almost synonymous with the functional, the high-rise, the space- and cost-effective, and with a host of other design ingredients essential to profit, efficiency, and let it be said, to comfort. These days there is little room, for elegant balconies, decorative high ceilings, columns and cupolas.Nevertheless, some of Durban's buildings have managed to weather the technological onslaught, thanks in part to a City Council now keenly conscious if the need for preservation, and in part to those developers who recognise the value of a building, a facade, a feature, and leave well alone."
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