How many times have you driven past this building unaware of the history, architecture and legacy behind it? The Majestic Durban City Hall was built in the early 1900s in classic Edwardian neo-Baroque-style architecture. In addition to the mayor’s parlour and municipal chambers, the building houses a public library, auditorium, and the Durban Art Gallery and Natural Science Museum behind its gracious façade, which makes it a multifaceted attraction.
Originally erected as the Town Hall, it was actually the second one built for that purpose, the first Town Hall having been taken over to become the current Durban Post Office. With the rapid expansion of Durban, in the late 1800s, there was a need for a much larger Town Hall. In 1903 the Town Council invited architects to submit designs for a new town hall. The winning design was submitted by Stanley G. Hudson who was so inspired by the City Hall of Belfast, Northern Ireland, he replicated it. On completion in 1910 it was considered a ‘very bold and progressive design’.
Hudson’s legacy is a stone-coloured structure adorned with sculptures portraying the arts, commerce, music, literature and industry, while the main pediment sculptures are representative of unity, patriotism and Great Britain.
With its flamboyant neo-Baroque architecture and coppered dome, you can hardly miss the impressive Durban City Hall (also known as the eThekwini City Hall). Despite being more than a hundred years old and dwarfed by surrounding modern skyscrapers, the building remains a grand example of Edwardian neo-Baroque.