Saturday, February 23, 2008

Broadwindsor, Durban

Broadwindsor Apartments, DurbanAt street level, Broadwindsor in Broad Street, Durban, South Africa could be any deco apartment block. The name is boldly displayed above the entrance while two concrete pillars cutting through the horizontal bands of windows lead your eye up the façade to the roofline. And what a roofline! Sitting atop each pillar is a stylised bird, Broadwindsor’s signature, elevating it to more than just another apartment block.

Broadwindsor designed by architects WC Moffat & Hirst was built in 1934 and although the original beautifully curved side windows have been replaced by the somewhat squared-off modern versions the impact of the overall design is still striking.

Broadwindsor Apartments, Durban
The birds on top are amazing. I love the curve of the body combined with the wings standing straight, pointing to the sky. The close up view shows the feathering detail and black eyes which bring the sculptures to life.

The two-tone blue colour scheme is a bit jarring but the more I think about it the more I think it works under the deep blue African skies. Durban is a seaside town so like Miami it can afford to use brighter colours for some of its buildings but Miami is a creature of its own making and I am wary of other places copying the style and diluting their own contribution to Art Deco heritage.

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