Durban - If you were wondering what caused the congestion in Dr Pixley kaIsaka Seme Street (West) Street in peak-hour traffic on Friday – a park has popped up in the busy road.
The main street in central Durban has been reduced to two lanes, from Stalwart Simelane (Stanger) Street down to Mahatma Gandhi (Point) Road, covering about three blocks, for the creation of a “linear park” for the duration of the 25th International Union of Architects World Congress, which starts on Sunday and ends on Thursday.
Don’t be surprised if you see people sitting at tables, drinking coffee or sipping cocktails, from Sunday while the traffic whizzes by. And, if the municipality has its way, in the near future, Dr Pixley kaIsaka Seme Street will become a pedestrian-only zone.
Nina Saunders, eThekwini Municipality architect, said a plan to rezone the street as pedestrian only was in the pre-feasibility stages.
“In keeping with the theme of the conference, which is ‘otherwhere’, we need to look at different ways to use space,” Saunders said on the sidelines of the conference countdown last week.
The municipality is planning to establish a pedestrian priority route connecting Warwick Junction in the west to the beachfront in the east and, in the long-term, a linear park for the entire city is proposed.
The first step is to activate a 400m stretch of the road as a full-scale demonstration of the street park experience and an exhibition documenting plans for the area.
While the park caused confusion among motorists, including taxi drivers, who drove down the street on Friday, the artificial green turf added a dash of colour against the grey buildings.
City spokeswoman Tozi Mthethwa urged motorists to be careful while driving past the “pedestrian zone”.
Traffic will not be able to access Walnut Road between Dr AB Xuma (Commercial) Street and Bram Fischer – until August 9, and John Milne Road will be closed from North Lane to Morrison Road until August 15 for the Rivertown Precinct Project, which will have a hall for exhibitions.
Durbanites will see other changes across the city, including a “car canopy” at a park near King Dinizulu (Berea) Road, which will act as a shelter from the weather.
This is part of architect Doung Jahangeer’s City Walk project, which will be a key feature for delegates.
At the Nicol Square Parkade at Dr Yusuf Dadoo (Grey) Street, Durbanites have the chance to write their wishes for Durban on a poster .
Many have already written, wishing Durban was free from crime, was safer and cleaner.
The installation was inspired by US artist Candy Chang’s “Before I die I want to…” chalkboard wall which she set up in her New Orleans neighbourhood.
At the Rachel Finlayson Pool, French-Taiwanese visual artist Chia-Wen Tsai and Joburg composer Diale Mabitsela teamed up for the In_Through uShintsho installation, which features sound and light reflected on the surface of the water.