A Film School for Durban Part 2 Project 2004 Alexandra van der Stoep University of KwaZulu-Natal Durban South Africa 1Videovision Entertainment have recently bought the once military base The Natal Command and have proposed to turn it into a film studio that will compete with Cape Town for a share of the South African film industry. Situated on the last piece of undeveloped land along Durban’s Golden Mile, Videovision have been ‘encouraged’ by the local government to make a sizable contribution to the development of the beach parade. Part of their proposal included a film school and it was this aspect of the scheme I proposed to explore.2 In a desperate attempt to gain recognition, identity and tourists- our city has been re-inventing itself more often than Madonna. How is it that a city which is widely recognized as South Africa’s truly ‘African’ city end up with an identity crisis? From a pseudo Disneyland to pseudo Las Vegas our city bears the signs of suffering from an inferiority complex. 3Located between the historical Natal Command Headquarters building and the gaudily themed Suncoast Casino the school makes a social comment about the state of our city’s identity. Billboards, screens and projected imagery on the building elevations refer to the constant need for re-invention and the lack of collective self acceptance.4Much like film, architecture is perceived as fragmented, mediated space. Although an observer may take any chosen path through a building, the viewer generally follows a predetermined route. A reality is proposed and the imagination is left to fill the gaps. In film, time and space are pliable making it possible for one to explore the relationships between the two which would be otherwise be impossible in reality. Although these abstract relationships may not be possible to recreate within the physical realm, they may provide clues to new ways of designing and manipulating space. Alexandra van der Stoep The design of the Durban Film School by Alexandra van der Stoep has rejuvenated the FUN in architecture once more. The presentation of the project and its contents conjures up the imagery suitable to the penchant of the paparazzi and the fickleness of fame.The proposal, while currently being considered as an imminent addition to Durban’s “Golden Mile”, offers a realistic suggestion of what may soon become a reality. The candidate has skillfully engaged with the specific Durban context: sunshine, surf and sea sand, and has produced a building that is both suited to the glamour and glitz of the film stars while offering a technically sound envelope in which to house a facility for learning.The development of the architectural response and the engagement of this candidate in the process from concept through to presentation, are highly commendable.