Old ideas given new life

Between 2001 and 2004 I worked on a fully accessible Indoor Sports Centre for Durban, to be used as headquarters for club activities for sports played by persons with disabilities as well as anyone else.

I was part of a team of consultants closely related to QASA. The complex would consist of 3 zones: a sports hall for basketball, volley ball, table tennis, etc, an administration and recreation area, and a swimming pool.

We worked with various Local Authorities, eyeing Council land, but with capital funding via Lotto or some such and investigated 6 different sites and liaisons with existing sports facilities. The Central eThekwini Municipality now appears to have built this sort of development into their scheme for the sports strip adjacent to the Durban Soccer Stadium, teamed with the High Performance Centre. We’re not sure what the brief will ultimately be, but control of the project would be taken out of our hands.

An advert has appeared in the newspaper for tenders for a lease on a site administered by the Council as Trustees for an estate of the late William Clark Trust, for ‘expressions of interest’ to the Real Estate Department. The lease would be to a Public Benefit Organization, whose aims and objectives are the welfare, education or well being of children. The site is occupied by 4 tennis courts (hard courts) and the site is 1,8984m2, just the size which would have been required by our scheme. The site is at 868 King Cetshawayo (Jan Smuts Highway), the main Road through Sherwood, the old main road from Durban to Pietermaritzburg. The platform for future buildings is already in place.

A friend, also an architect, has gathered together a group who run a swimming club at various pools around Durban, and a Nurseryman who operates a garden centre next door to the site to get their buy-in to this as a sports/education centre. The education would encompass the Enviro Park, nature trails and the teaching of swimming. QASA, being a public benefit organization, was also keen to join the team. It goes without saying that it will comply with universal design principles.

Basically, because a rework of the original scheme could be used, that part didn’t need a lot of research, but putting it together has been a huge amount of work, and ideas are flying, especially with regard to the sustainability of the project. There are many schools in the area, Cato Manor and Jimmy Carter’s Housing development, as well as a Provincial Housing scheme, but it is mainly a middle class area, with easy access to Durban CBD, and a new large Shopping Centre. Children from the schools go on outings about 3 times a week. They could come to this development, where teaching children to swim would be the main thrust. As it will be indoors it can be used at all times, even in the summer when we have many rainy days.

The pool would be the first phase, but it will also be the most expensive to maintain. Thus the other 2 phases could follow soon, to provide income to sustain the venture. The building will hardly change the view from the street as it is densely treed, and these will remain for the Enviro area. Nurseries in the town have taken to having tea gardens attached, for family outings, and this is proposed here too.
Altogether this proposal is quite exciting to contemplate. With universal design principles: equitable use, flexibility in use, simple and easy to use, perceptible information, low tolerance for error, low physical effort required, size and space for approach and use, to all the facilities, it should have broad appeal.
It’s not only a question of getting a building up and running, we have to be sure that, given everyday needs of our community, it will serve them well, and add value in general to Durban .

Well we haven’t won the tender yet but “where there’s a will there’s a way!”
Perhaps this time?

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