Cato Manor, Durban, KwaZulu-Natal (2003)
At the cusp of SA’s democracy (1994) the Cato Manor Development Agency (CMDA) with EU funding, put out a provincial architectural competition for new office space in what had been identified as ‘The Central Node’ – bounded by Cato Crest to the north, UKZN (then UND) to the east and south and Bellair road to the west. The brief called for a ‘town and gown’ approach – reflecting the interface between the University, NGO’s and the broader community. Our winning proposal suggests a potpourri of formal/informal-red hot chilli pepper architecture in a number of broken, mono pitched ‘pods’ around a central, defended, open space – later to become a parking lot! The building has been called variously –‘ the ugliest building we have ever seen’ – from a lift club that travels past the building daily and ‘a spaza building’ by
Prof. Franco Frescura.
Denis Beckett wrote of the building in his book White Man Walking: "Approaching the CMDA offices I take my first solid look at the building... Throughout South Africa the new name of the architectural game is Africanise... CMDA's exploration goes as far as any exterior yet. Never mind that the effect is distinctive and, to this subjective mind, attractive, it's deliciously pioneering. It symbolises Africa's clock turning forward."