Umgeni Road

Durban, South Africa

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Winning Team: Umgeni Interchange
Team members: Phumla Marx, Lucas Mendy, Ndumiso Mbathuma, Zakithi Xulu &
Nomfundo Mthembu | University of Cape Town

Umgeni Interchange’s proposal aims to create a vibrant, flood-resilient development that enhances the safety, functionality, and attractiveness of the area. The proposal includes a combination of commercial spaces, retail outlets, and affordable housing units to promote economic growth and cater to the housing needs of the community.

1) Mixed-Use Commercial, Retail, and Affordable Housing Block 

  • Basements with removable or water-resistant barriers to mitigate flood risk 

  • Ground floors with mixed-use retail & commercial units

  • Upper floor with housing units with social and low-cost integrated across floors to combat apartheid-style segregation

  • Pre-school connected to housing block to increase access walkable access to resources

2) Sustainable resource use 

  • Solar panels for energy generation to mitigate the impacts of load shedding

  • Bioswales that filter out pollution to help absorb excess water, reducing the strain n the existing drainage infrastructure and minimizing flood risks. 

  • Grey water reuse system for circularity in affordable houses

Check out their winning proposal, as well as an acknowledgement of all participating teams in the documentation tab!

Jury members that assessed all submitted proposals include:
  • Mr Bhekumuzi Mhlongo, Project Executive (Infrastructure Projects) | eThekwini Municipality 
  • Mr Emmanuel Letebele, Manager (Strategic Planning)  | eThekwini Municipality 
  • Jessica Kavonic, Head of Implementation, Africa | C40 Cities 

The Umgeni Road site is strategically located near a sports facility and acts as an important interface between the city centre, its outskirts and Durban Train Station. The site also borders the IIsaah Ntshangase Road which provides access to the Sun Coast Entertainment Centre and nearby beaches. It is within close proximity of the Moses Mabhida Stadium, which hosted the 2010 World Cup.

Durban has experienced unprecedented growth due to rural-urban migration and has seen a rise in the need for affordable housing. This site forms part of eThekwini’s broader initiative to combat the housing crisis by ensuring 40% of new homes built are affordable or social, with 10,000 units set to be built across the city. 

Students are expected to develop proposals that: 

  • Develop low-cost social and ‘gap’ housing, particularly in the eastern area of the site, for low to middle-class populations to reduce the housing backlog within the city.
  • A mixed-use ‘centre’ in the North-Western area of the site, including commercial, retail, social,  and public services. 
  • Improve accessibility, and promote equal access to green spaces and public transport services. 

Given that site acts as an important connection between the northern suburbs (Morningside, Durban North, etc.) and the city centre, students are encouraged to develop proposals that embrace the site’s location and provide a variety of mixed services.

Approx. site area

  • 4 hectares, hosting the potential to construct 1560 residential units. 

Key Information

The site is composed of old sports fields and currently hosts various sports fixtures and occasionally parking during events hosted at Moses Mabhida Stadium. 

Priority areas & main expectations:

  • Balance the need for affordable housing with other land-use opportunities, such as market-delivered housing. 
  • Promote mixed urban areas (commercial, residential, recreational)
  • Ensure residents are well-connected to public transport to commute into the city 
  • Embed clean energy into site construction and promote the circular use of resources, considering Durban’s net-zero 2050 target 
  • Integrate urban greening practices to create spaces that boost climate resilience (against flooding, the urban heat island effect) and spaces that are used recreationally, like parks and squares.
  • Repurpose existing cultural heritage buildings for community use 

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Durban South Africa