We sit down with Umhlanga architects to learn more about their career and recent projects.
Prakasen Govender from PGA Architects
Tell us more about your career in architecture
I qualified in 1993 from UKZN as an architect. Architecture to me is more than just a design. You are creating a space which dictates how people will live, work or play, which impacts on their social, economical and mental well-being. The responsibility is immense to ensure that the space promotes growth, harmony and happiness. When built, this work of art becomes a permanent public exhibit.
PGA Architects was founded in 1996 and has grown to a multinational company. We have an extensive database of loyal clients and developers. For some clients, we have designed in excess of four homes each over 25 years. Our developer clients use us repeatedly. That’s a testament to our level of service and skills.
In 2010, we developed our head office in Umhlanga, PGA Park. Our portfolio of work includes commercial, industrial, residential and government projects. We specialise in mixed-use residential projects that cater to the quality of life and convenience demanded by today’s young professionals.
What do you love about being an architect working on the East Coast?
The sea, the sun and the people! I love the energy that we have because of our fabulous weather and location. Family lifestyle and convenient living dominate the design briefs. Family lifestyle and convenient living dominate the design briefs. You can get luxury apartments and homes in Durban for a fraction of Cape Town’s prices.
Tell us about any exciting developments you are working on at the moment
In Ridgeside, The Skye is a luxury, mixed-use residential and commercial development with a hotel. 41 Degrees is the first building to use Neolith for an exterior façade, giving it a modern, upmarket aesthetic. Ridge Town Central and Central Park offer quality apartments close to Gateway, and The Bellagio apartment block is about to commence construction.
Kikembe will also be launched soon, boasting 180-degree sea views at very affordable prices, and Craighall, Sandton is our new an ultra-modern townhouse development.
How has architecture changed after the lockdown?
It has definitely made us re-evaluate our life and priorities. People realised the importance of where and how we live. Clients are more critical about natural light, ventilation, open spaces, sustainability, smart home specifications and entertainment spaces. They are less concerned about flashy aesthetics and more interested in the form and function of their homes.
031 584 7200
Nikita Rajoo from OMNI Architects
Why did you start OMNI Architects?
After completing my bachelor’s degree, I always aspired to have my own successful architectural firm that was based right here in sunny Durban. This is what led me to start OMNI Architects. Creating architectural designs that enhance the everyday experience of the people using those spaces is what drives me as an architect. I want to create spaces for people to enjoy, not just for today, but for a lifetime of memories to come.
Do you feel that clients’ wants and needs have changed with COVID-19 and the lockdown?
I think the pandemic has definitely made people think more about how we live, especially concerning the way technology is being used more in our everyday lives. But personally speaking, I feel the needs and wants of clients are still the same; however the way their needs and wants are being utilised in architectural design will be focused more towards integrating the latest technology. As designers, I believe we have a foundation of basic design principles, but the use of technology will definitely shape our thinking.
What are the advantages of having a business on the East Coast?
First and foremost, the annual dress code of ‘slops and tops’ is a hard one to beat – I love being a casual, chilled Durbanite! Most importantly, the East Coast calls for more potential than ever before! Opportunity and change is at the forefront of this area which makes this a very exciting and eventful era to be a part of. There’s just no place we’d rather be. I guess the secret to designing places that feel like home is to be in a place where you feel most at home!
Tell us about any exciting developments you are working on at the moment.
Well, naughty COVID-19 had slowed down some projects, but we are very excited to get underway with an eco city we are busy with at the moment. We have called it Bermuda City, because it’s going to make you want to never leave! We also have a funky student and staff nursing home we are doing with the Department of Health.
Please feel free to pop by for a cappuccino or americano at our amazing coffee bar, OMNI Café, in our office.
11 Sinembe Crescent, Corporate Park, La Lucia
David, Ryan and Brandon from Bloc Architects
Who are Bloc Architects?
Bloc Architects is a leading Durban based firm of architects driven by the dynamic trio of David Nelson, Ryan Harborth and Brandon Robertson. The practice has over 30 years of professional commercial experience, with over 1000 built projects. Bloc has won numerous local, national and international awards, most recently winning three awards at the International Property Awards.
Bloc Architects works with an outstanding method that produces world-class design that understands its market and has an intimate understanding of the complex economic forces that shape a development, and blends this with years of on-site experience to produce buildings that work, appeal universally, and sell.
Tell us about any exciting projects you are working on at the moment.
Bloc Architects has around 60 high-end single residential houses on the go and over 400 medium density opportunities that are either in the ground or about to break ground. We also have two 72-bed hospitals starting in the new year, which we are really looking forward to!
Our firm is fortunate enough to be doing a fair bit of exciting urban regeneration work with Urban Lime in the CBD and Florida Road precinct. We are also very happy to say that we have just launched “The Woods” at Elaleni, which comprises of 90 freestanding units as a sectional title estate within an estate at affordable prices. Bloc Architects is also working on the ultra-exclusive, eight-unit apartment block, “Noir”, in Umdloti.
Why is the East Coast a great place for these projects?
Our architecture takes advantage of the East Coast’s unmatched lifestyle offering, enviable warm weather and breathtaking ocean views. This area has seen unprecedented growth over the past decade with many economists noting that this area is the fastest growing wealth market in South Africa due to the wonderful lifestyle, weather and school opportunities here!
Do you feel that people’s wants and needs have changed with the COVID-19 pandemic and lockdown?
The lockdown allowed people to pause and realise what they value most and adjust accordingly. There has been an increase of houses and apartments in security estates, and we’ve seen the inclusion of home gyms, off-grid devices (such as backup water storage and power generation) as well as home offices in many briefs. Commercially, there has been an upsurge in medical projects. However, office developments have taken a huge hit, with many companies realising some staff can work from home permanently.
Suite 7, 10 Rydall Vale Crescent, La Lucia Ridge
031 566 3320