Groote Schuur, Erskine Terrace, Point, Durban, South Africa
Groote Schuur is a large block of residential units, with a parking level and 15 storeys crowned by the penthouse level. Following and filling the shape of the site, the building sits at the front boundary edge, creating a stark convex curve that faces east to the Indian Ocean and south across the harbour mouth. This sets up a dialogue with the natural form of the Bluff, engaging the view of the larger landscape.Being the last multi-storey building along the beachfront, Groote Schuur has becomes a bookend to the others, while swooping back from the coastline towards the harbour. The strong horizontal articulation of the floors accentuates the sense of movement around the corner. This strengthens the figure-ground contrast between built form and road network, a sound urban design principle which has unfortunately not been continued further south in recent developments. Crofton and Benjamin’s characteristic method for highlighting the distinction between floors in their multi-storey buildings involved dividing the floor height into two bands which interlocked like the teeth of gears. The lower band consists of plastered brickwork, creating a graph-like pattern across the façade. The recessed upper band contains large windows and balconies linked by a narrow ribbon of high-level windows and additional plastered brickwork. At Groote Schuur these ribbons are staggered to alleviate any monotony that might arise from a building with so many similar units. This device gives the elevations a sense of depth and a richness of composition that make them stand out from other buildings from the same period. It is a sure way of recognising a Crofton and Benjamin project.
Architect(s): Crofton and Benjamin
Year: Not Available
Crofton and Benjamin

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