Graham Leslie McCallum

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

HOUSE KENTRIDGE, 109 Princess Alice Avenue, Glenwood, Durban

I know this New International Style house in Glenwood, Durban, has a name (Kentridge House) but I think it so deserves another. May I suggest Palm House – for a large and imposing royal palm gently hugs the side of the structure in a loving way and explodes into a celebratory fanfare of green fronds in the bright Berean sky. This accompaniment is appropriate, for the house has a tropical aspect with its projecting sunshades and large strip windows. Very few NIS houses were built in Durban, this being one of the few. Today, this style is been popularised by the nouveau riche in an expression of their modern tastes.

Art Deco, New International Style, Durban, Princess Ann Ave 017

This handsome residence stands on a strangely shaped site that is somewhat like a raised peninsula between the roads Princess Alice Avenue and Morris Place. The triangular plot no doubt dictating the dimensions of the house. Elevating above Princess Alice Avenue, the abode looks something like a fine artwork on a pedestal. Furthermore, the plot allows one to survey the house from three sides. From the western side of the house, the facade sweeps gracefully (in a circular fashion) around to the southern side of the abode. When viewed from the fork in the road, this feature looks somewhat like a circular tower with a top hat. The aspect from Morris Place is in contrast to the other views, for from this side, the dwelling is slab-like, and lacking interest and dimension save for the 7 windows of differing sizes.

The house has been altered since its erecting in 1940, for the original 5 portholes on the northern side of the house had been bricked in and a large window inserted. A third floor viewing room was also added, but minus a matching sunshade.

I noticed renovation or restoration work was in progress with the insertion of a new matching porthole on the western facade and a reopening of 3 of the 5 portholes on the northern side, bringing the facade somewhat back to the original. The owners have thankfully refrained from building security walls that would block admiring, perhaps envious glances. The only blight to this gem is the unattractive wrought-iron security gate at the main entrance.

Built in 1940. Architect – Raymond Clement Fridjhon 1905 – 1974.

Art Deco, Durban, Princess Alice Ave. 018

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