Celebrating the Old Lady of DHS – Part Three
THE OLD MEMORIAL HALL 1919-2019 (Part 3)
by Chess Sagnelli
DHS MEDIA CENTRE
As a former pupil (1970-1974) and whilst serving on the Governing Body of DHS in the 1990’s as an advisory on the buildings and the property of DHS. The Projects committee headed by Don Spiers came up with the vision to unlock the full potential of the “Grand Old Lady”, The Durban High School Hall.
As an Architect I was commissioned to gather and lead a team of DHS professionals in the Architecture, Engineering and Quantity Surveying fraternity to tackle this new venture. As a team we collectively agreed that this beautiful historical building structure would have to be retained and whatever we did, would have to happen within the envelope without affecting or touching this old lady. Essentially we were like surgeons going to operate on the interior of a very old lady who needed some vital new organs that would give her a new lease on life and would project her into the 21st century with vigour and unmatched excellence.
If you look at the design we came up with which had 3 levels each independent yet connected through stairways. These 3 levels would be supported independent of the outer body of the old lady and the form that came out of the design was the shape of a violin which has a sense of classic elegance. At each level you would be able to look to the level below or above and be part of an overall state of the art media centre. The project was finished in 1999 and was hailed as the top media centre in South Africa.
Today as I write this article, things have changed and the same old lady is going through a number of operations to bring her up to date with the needs of the moment.
This beautiful building has some extraordinary history of housing many old boys in various journeys of their school career. The school hall was dedicated to men who lay down their lives for their country and today this ethos has never changed. I can only dream what she could become in the days ahead.
The Durban High School Media Centre is currently undergoing a revamp, which is nearing completion. It has been exciting watching the developments and we look forward to the finished product, which will be soon.
Below are few photographs of the process in progress.