KZN Society of Arts (KZNSA) Gallery is one of my favourite places to hang out at.It’s also my favourite building in Durban. The building consists of a shop of local crafts and also stocks silverware by Carrol Boyes,an art gallery and an arts cafe.The design is by Walters & Cohen Architects from London who are originally graduates of the University of Kwazulu-Natal. While the gallery is the main focus,it’s the arts cafe that contributes to the success of this space.
I’d love to go on about the architectural merits of the building but I’m going to talk about what a powerful space this is instead. To let you know why you and I, and everyone else visiting Durban should stop by.
You can find the KZNSA Gallery in Glenwood in Durban and its address is 166 Bulwer Road. The surrounding buildings are Victorian style and the gallery is a modern glass and steel building.When I first stumbled upon the arts cafe I instantly fell inlove with the space.It soon became a favourite meeting place for my high school friends and I who refer to it as “The NSA”.I never fully understood why I was so intrigued by the space that the NSA created until I became a student of architecture.The combination of sitting in little amounts of shade provided by the indigenous trees,enjoying the light that filtered through the timber screens and watching the cars pass by were little joys for me. The NSA has such a great relationship with the street,pulling people in and transferring the energetic buzz onto passers by. It makes sitting alone such an enjoyable experience; a zen-like contemplative one. The NSA Gallery is one of the less intimidating spaces; inviting and accessible,not reserved only for those who are patrons of the arts.
The NSA boasts some amazing architectural concepts .It’s a double volume,elongated glass box that has a beautiful slatted timber facade which opens up into the tea garden and takes full advantage of the climatic conditions.The real success of this building is in its ability to create a great public space that really makes an impact on its visitors.A place that is loved by the locals and invites senior citizens,families, youngsters and university students to spend some time outside.This is what the NSA does effortlessly, it invites every single one of us to come and enjoy its space, to have a cup of coffee or a milkshake.It charms us into staying a little longer; to wonder through the local crafts in the curio shop and to take our first steps into the gallery so that we may engage with art. The NSA turns the pretentious notion of a gallery on its head and sets a precedent for a gallery being a great meeting place for the locals; and a well loved landmark for everyone else.
If you’re from Durban, have you been to The NSA yet? What do you all think of the place, do you like the vibe? If you’re interested in the design intent of the building click here .