Renowned Architect Hans Hallen visits UKZN Residences
Renowned architect and one of the first graduates in Architecture at the former University of Natal, Mr Hans Hallen, recently made his first visit to UKZN’s Mabel Palmer, John Bews, and Scully Hall residences on the Durban campus, since designing and building the student accommodation in the early 1960s.
Hallen, who is in his 80s, said: ‘It’s wonderful to be back to see the residences and note how they have changed and how the design of the buildings were modified. And it gives me a chance to recall and share my memories of those days with everyone. I’m thankful that what I’ve built at UKZN will continue to be here, even after I am gone.’
Hallen’s design of the UKZN residences is considered among the best examples of Brutalist architecture in South Africa. Both residences are characterised by expressive plans and sections, axial or diagonal entrances, and perimeter student cells accessed from dramatic internal spaces by way of suspended walkways and staircases in the clerestory-lit spaces.
Scully dining hall, with its internal double volume, is accessed from the residences or across the roof of the kitchen, and is marked by expressive forms for the intake of daylight and the flow of air.
During his visit to Mabel Palmer residence, Hallen spoke to Law and French student Mr Kudzai Mukaratirwa who raved about Hallen’s work. ‘I live in this residence and to meet the person who designed it, is amazing. I love the design of the residence. It’s so unique.’
Hallen was also able to view all of his design drawings and sketch works through the University’s architecture archives, managed by Ms Michele Jacobs. The archives hold material from the country’s top architects.
Jacobs is currently digitizing Hallen’s work and continues to archive all relevant material linked to him.
Second year Architecture students were also able to interact with Hallen and many asked him questions relating to his work and his advice on becoming a successful architect.
Student Mr Trevin Naidoo said: ‘To meet him was truly a once in a lifetime opportunity. Hallen is a source of inspiration for many of us and being able to chat to him was something that I will cherish.’
Architecture Lecturer Mr Sbu Sithole added: ‘Hallen has contributed immensely to the profession. We discuss his work in the classroom and for the students to get this opportunity to meet him personally is really great. We are grateful that he is with us to share his expertise and skills and to inspire the next generation of architects.’