Durban, located on the east coast of South Africa, is the third most populous city in the country, after Johannesburg and Cape Town. It is also one of South Africa's major tourism centres thanks to the city's warm subtropical climate and extensive beaches.
Another feature which results in Durban drawing attention from locals and tourists is the city's wealth of heritage buildings, which stand the chance of slowly disappearing from neighbourhoods. Heritage buildings are defined as those older than 60 years and are protected by KwaZulu-Natal's heritage authority, Amafa.
The Berea area (a collective designation for the area's suburbs and described as the area between the Howard College Campus of the University of KwaZulu-Natal, and the Burman Bush Nature Reserve) features some of the oldest mansions in Durban. It is also here where heritage buildings have been slowly disappearing due to renovations. Although there is no stand against property development in Durban, action has been taken to educate investors and developers about what a heritage building is, as well as the need for it to be preserved. Development is still allowed, but in keeping with the style of the original structure to ensure the city's heritage structures remain.
In addition to old houses, other listed heritage buildings in Durban include temples, mosques and churches.
It is important to remember that the term 'architect' is protected (like doctor) and cannot be used by someone unless they have the required qualifications and accreditation. With interior architecture, the designer/professional is required to consider everything related to the building of an interior space that will affect the inhabitants including the materials, finishes, electrical wiring, lighting, ergonomics, etc.
Interior designers that have been trained in interior architecture will usually be present at all stages of a construction project, from the drawing up of the initial plans right through to applying the finishing touches.
In short, interior architecture is more concerned with the science of a building and focuses on the balancing of art and science by taking into account all the necessary elements of the build. An interior designer will rather focus on the art of the building and cannot call themselves an interior architect unless they possess the relevant accreditation from an architectural body.
1. They tell a good story
Anybody can build a home (or at least draw up the plans for one), but it takes a very skilled professional to tell the story of a specific client, in a specific place, at a specific time via a structure. This enriches the experience and gives the building a whole reason to exist.
Architects and interior architects are taught to conceptualise projects by inventing a narrative. The narrative can be based on something specific (like a preserved tree included in the garden or a courtyard) or something more general (like having all rooms bathing in lots of natural light). The narrative can even emerge from a client's specific request, like refraining from using any bright colours in the design or basing the structure on a certain shape or building style.
Finding the bigger, guiding idea and telling a story around it distinguishes an ordinary architect/interior architect from a great one.
2. They take risks
Doing something out of the ordinary can be done by anybody working in a creative field. This does not mean that every single decision requires bold action, but looking at a problem from a creative angle can very often result in a unique solution – and a fantastic design.
3. They focus on the details
Architecture is meant to solve a problem, but it's the way that the architect approaches the problem that can make all the difference. Small details matter, as they're the ones we come into contact with every day. And the way in which all the different components fit together to form a structure is what makes up the details. This can include anything from designing a staircase with unique railings to mixing and matching different materials for a structure's interiors and/or exteriors.
4. They simplify
Architects are taught to edit something down to its essential components. Thus, if it doesn't have a function, its presence should be questioned.
5. They establish order
The need for order requires hierarchy, which brings us back to an architect deciding on what is the most important thing and letting the rest defer to it.
6. They repeat
Repetition does not mean boring – it can be a terrific feature in architecture. Think of common elements repeated again and again such as windows, doors, beams, materials... But the basic rule of repetition is that it requires a minimum of three of anything to appreciate the benefits. If two is regarded as good, then three will be better.
7. They break the rules
This goes hand in hand with the previous habit of repeating, for once we establish a repeating pattern, we can decide where to break this rule. Think of a house with a series of windows perfectly aligned. If there is going to be one window that breaks the pattern, there must be an important reason for it, like something blocking the view to the outside.
8. They engage all the senses
Architects and interior architects are taught to think about all the senses when designing a structure, not only the visual (i.e. a beautiful view). Therefore, it is just as important to open a home to a nice view as it is to protect it from unwanted noise or bad smells. Architects will, therefore, take into consideration the feeling of cool concrete versus warm wood, and the sound of rain on a metal roof, before deciding on the right material and finish for their design.
With the evolution of architecture and design over the past few years, there have been various factors that have increased the ambiguity between the industry's professions. This has resulted in a wider scope and led to many interior designers getting more involved with the architectural and technical aspects of interior design, and less with the decorative elements.