Exploring Art and Defining Design
MOUNT ROYAL – Durban
I have driven past this 5 story block of flats in Congella many times and took note that it had some Art Deco detail. This week, on impulse, I stopped and with my camera in hand took a closer inspection. The name Mount Royal belies the rather humble flats that lie behind a pleasant facade of coloured brick and contrasting plaster, made dramatic by several tall palms. The front face of the structure is now somewhat lacking in dimension since residents closed in their balconies. (Note. the balconies have water spouts). This flatness is somewhat relieved by a centrally projecting, and unusual brick structure, that rises above the entrance. I initially thought a flight of stairs was located behind this structure, but there are in fact flats. Above this projection is a large and imposing Art Deco winged motif with a central shield, that at a glance, looks like a large bird is alighting on the building. The top line of the building steps back in a typical Art Deco fashion.
The foyer still sports much of its original wooden paneling, now crying out for a waxing and a shine. Flanking the entrance are two surviving brick and tile gate posts, the construction method familiar to many Bereans whose fireplaces were similarly built.
Graham Leslie McCallum