Graham Leslie McCallum

The tree of happiness flowers and fruits most abundantly for the creative man

MOUNT ROYAL – DURBAN – ART DECO

I have driven past this 5 story block of flats in Congella many times, but had never noticed the Art Deco architectural details, probably because the building is hidden behind some tall palms. This week however, I happened to stop in front of the flats, and looking up, noticed a large winged motif on the top facade. Intrigued and nosy, I climbed out of my car, camera in hand, for a closer inspection.

Art Deco, Mount Royal, DunKirk Rd, Durban

The silly and pretentious name ‘Mount Royal’ belies the rather humble flats that lie behind a pleasant facade of red-coloured brick and contrasting cream-coloured plaster. The front face of the structure is now somewhat lacking in dimension since residents closed in their balconies. One can always spot these alterations, for the balconies still have their water-drainage spouts.

Art Deco, Mount Royal, DunKirk Rd, Durban, entrance

This flatness is somewhat relieved by an unusual, centrally-placed and projecting structure, built of red brick with herring-bone patterned insets, that rises from above the entrance, leading the eye upwards to an imposing Art Deco winged motif with a central shield. At a glance, this decorative feature looks like a large bird alighting on the building. I initially thought a flight of stairs was located behind this structure, but there are in fact flats.

Art Deco, Mount Royal, DunKirk Rd, Durban, winged motif

The top line of the building steps back in a typical Art Deco fashion.

The Caretaker of Mount royal, took me on a short guided tour of the building, allowing to photograph the handsome foyer, still sporting its original wooden paneling, but now crying out for a waxing.

Art Deco, Mount Royal, DunKirk Rd, Durban, Foyer

Flanking the entrance are two surviving brick and terracotta tile gate posts, the construction method familiar to many Berean homes whose fireplaces were similarly built.

Art Deco, Mount Royal, DunKirk Rd, Durban 009

Graham Leslie McCallum

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