Towards a relevant architecture : an international rowing and canoeing regatta centre for KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa.
2008 was a year which highlighted how far South Africa has fallen behind the rest of the world in the international Olympic sporting arena. High hopes for the Olympic Games in Beijing ended in a lower-than expected medal tally that sparked great debate in South African society. The reasons for this phenomenon are numerous and complex and it is not the intention of this dissertation to investigate all these concerns. However, what is of an architectural concern is the inadequate and often sub-standard sporting facilities which athletes in South Africa, in non-mainstream sporting codes, have to contend with. The challenge for architects in this regard is to design buildings for these sports, that are both adequate and of a suitable standard, while remaining relevant to their context. This to promote professionalism and inspire athletes to succeed through the creation of high quality, world-class facilities for competition, training and preparation. Rowing, canoeing and kayaking are highly competitive and technologically advanced Olympic sports. Many South African athletes compete in these disciplines and have enjoyed limited international success. Unfortunately, as there are currently no international regatta centres in Southern Africa, these same athletes have to travel abroad to compete and train at such facilities. South African athletes and the sports of rowing, canoeing and kayaking would thus benefit greatly from having access to locally based regatta facilities. KwaZulu-Natal has a proud sporting heritage and is synonymous with water sports as a result of its favourable climate and geographic location. This coupled with various other established sporting infrastructure, makes it the ideal Province for hosting major sporting events. Both Durban as a city and KwaZulu-Natal as a Province, have an impressive track record for hosting large sporting events. The Province has future aspirations of hosting major sporting events including the Commonwealth Games and the Olympics Games, with Durban soon hoping to be bidding to host the 2020 Summer Olympics. To host such events will require the design of many specialised sporting facilities for the city and will include the need for an international regatta centre. In my opinion, the best site for such a centre in KwaZulu-Natal is at Camps Drift in Pietermaritzburg. The requirements for an international regatta centre are both highly technical and very specific as set out by the respective world sporting governing bodies. These requirements need to be strictly adhered to in order for the Centre to be considered to be of an internationalstandard. The challenge will be to design architecture that is functional in achieving these set criteria while, remaining relevant to the social, economic and environmental context of its design. Thus the purpose of this research document is to determine a relevant architecture for the design of an International Regatta Centre for KwaZulu-Natal.