Architect & Builder, Umhlanga Arch

Commercial & Mixed Use, Hotels & Lodges, Interiors & Brand Architecture

Umhlanga Arch

Umhlanga, Durban, KwaZulu Natal, South Africa

Four years since announcing the commencement of the world class R1.3 Billion Umhlanga Arch development, the first phase of this mixed-use precinct is now complete. The development first broke ground in October 2017, planned as a joint venture between. The Multiply Group and Devmco Group.

Four years since announcing the commencement of the world class R1.3 Billion Umhlanga Arch development, the first phase of this mixed-use precinct is now complete. The development first broke ground in October 2017, planned as a joint venture between. The Multiply Group and Devmco Group.

Recognised immediately by the iconic arched façade, the development brings the idea of mixed-use living to life. Live in luxury apartments and work in AAA-grade office spaces in the state-of-the-art glass arch. Stay in the South African flagship Hilton Garden Inn. Play along the European-inspired High Street and experience bespoke retailers and curated events in the Legacy Yard. Savour new tastes at Legacy Yard Food hall. Share drinks with friends at the Back Yard rooftop bar.

Location and Site

Umhlanga Arch is located between Ncondo Place and Vuna Close on the sea facing slopes of the Ridgeside precinct at Umhlanga Ridge outside Durban. 

The prominent sloping site has a height allowance of up to 235msl, with a height difference on the site of approximately five floors. Ridgeside is a four-precinct development that will complete Umhlanga Ridge. The 140-hectare site lies nestled within a rough triangle created by Umhlanga Rocks Drive and two major highways, the M4 and the M41 and on completion will effectively link Umhlanga Ridge to Umhlanga Rocks.

Client Brief

The brief to the architects, Craft of Architecture (COA), called for a mixed-use development of 45,000m2 of bulk which, when added with parking and services, ends up at an area of 90,000 m2 .

Being a corner site with maximum height allowance, the client wanted something special – something different to what was currently available in the area. An important aspect of the development idea was also based on the mixed -use concept of live, work, stay and play… all in one place. The development was to include: A ±5,000 m2 dealership, which comprised of ±3,000 m2 showroom and ±2,000 m2 of state-of-the-art workshop facilities; A 203-room Hilton Garden Inn; 162 apartments, with Penthouse suites and 30 New York style lofts; ±2,000 m2 of retail with food and beverage laid put as a typical London high street; ±6,500 m2 of AAA grade offices; During the project the development brief also expanded with an addition of a Legacy Yard food hall and The Pencil, an exclusive members club.

Planning Considerations

Due to the scale of the project and the various components that had to go into it, the planning process happened in 3D by stacking simple building blocks. 

Large volumes of parking are required to accompany this type of brief and this was located in a naturally ventilated semibasement of 8 floors between Ncondo Place and Vuna Close. This parking block became referred to as the podium. It starts at the bottom of Vuna Close and terminated three floors above Ncondo Place. There was a special requirement to have the dealership easily accessible from the main access road, Ncondo Place, and to give the dealership exposure to Umhlanga Rocks Drive. The residences and the hotel would be positioned on top of the podium at the part of the site where the height limit allowed for a tall block. It seemed fitting that the larger resident component would be on the seaside and the hotel box on the street side. The public component of the high street was placed on top of the podium occupying the 3rd floor above Ncondo Place. This also allowed for enough height to ensure panoramic sea views and a safe pedestrian environment free of cars. The commercial component of the offices seemed to be best suited at the corner of the site facing the busy M12 above the dealership.

Design Details

  • A podium was created with the required 8 levels of parking bridging the gap between the Ncondo PI. and Vuna Cl.
  • The roof of the podium acts like a park with lawns and trees surrounded by shops and restaurants.
  • All the blocks are accessed via the public park on the top of the podium, ensuring that the shops and restaurants are activated.
  • There was an intention to express these blocks individually but they needed to come from the same ‘family’. The bold form of the design was intended to withstand all the differing components and inputs.
  • The distinctive arch in the office wing creates interest and invites one to explore beyond the arch. The reflections in the arch soffit highlight trees from the street and cars from the park.
  • During the design and development process, and in response to the urban planning part of the parking façade facing Vuna Close, this was improved by being lined with loft apartments.

Design Components


The podium was mainly designed to accommodate parking requirements, but as the design developed certain responses to brief and urban framework had to be considered. The dealership and lofts were inserted into the podium block. In order to activate the street edge at Ncondo PI. all the pedestrian vertical circulation from the parking was moved to the front of the building. This included escalators, glass lifts and stairs.


The dealership ended up working best on two 4.5m high levels, with easy access off Ncondo Place to the showroom on the upper level. The bottom level is divided into a used car showroom and workshop with 18 service bays. The two levels are joined by a glazed double volume space on the sea-facing corner where a sculptural stair is suspended alongside a suspended feature car.


The 5 levels of AAA grade offices have been shaped into a curved wing acknowledging the prime corner positioning of the site. This is further accentuated by the wing being pierced with an opening from which the name Umhlanga Arch was later derived.

High Street

The high street is on top the podium on the 3rd floor above Ncondo place. The internal parking circulation has been positioned on the street edge to activate and allow easy flow to the public square. The center of the high street is design like a park with a lawned area for sitting or playing lined with trees and benches. The park is surrounded by shops and restaurants. All visitors to the residences, hotel and offices access via the area.

Hilton Garden Inn

The first Hilton Garden Inn in South Africa, the hotel is positioned adjacent to the access street and has 203 rooms located over 14 levels. The windows are vertically staggered to contrast against those of the residences.

Materials Used

There was an honest approach to the materials used, with off -shutter concrete, high performance double glazing and steel structures with timber and aluminium screens and louvers. 

The use of plaster and paint was minimised where possible. Face brick was used on the High Street to create texture and warmth. The colours that were selected for the façade were toned down, complimenting warm greys. The precinct has a prescribed colour pallet the architect needed to adhere to which is challenging when working with brands that have their own colour requirements. This was the case with the dealership for SMG/BMW which needed to be entirely white in colour.


One of the main challenges was maintaining the cohesive core concept with all the ongoing changes. 

Structural planning and services coordination in a mixed-use environment was also challenging. Offices on top of the retail, on top of the dealership showroom on top of a workshop all require different column spacing. The complexity of integrating the different uses /services/brands identities and expectations of elements stacked vertically and horizontally while also consolidating and taking them through eight floor structure gave the building an extreme complexity in nature. At the same time the team was challenged with proving the user with a clear, uncomplicated experience both visually and through usage and experience. It was an extremely complex program and set of challenges that entailed a large part of the process being removed that complexity for the users, providing them with the desired experience of a true mixed use building. One of the façade challenges was the size and clarity of the glazing on the façade of the dealership. The glass needed to be clear as possible to ensure optimal display of the cars to the passers-by. This requirement is challenged by the loss of control of heat gain when the glass is too clear, making the space too hot and bright. The glass panels similarly needed to be as large as possible in the sizes available but large panels require bigger obtrusive mullions.

BIM Challenges

In order to keep up with the fast pace of the project it was agreed upon to utilise BIM techniques as much as possible, to rationalise the documentation approach and accommodate the fast-tracked demands of construction. 

Documenting and Collaborating on a Durban based project, from a Cape Town office was assisted by the use of cloud-based platforms, which helped improve consultant communication and productivity. The BIM model was separated into various parts to accommodate the scale of the project. All consultants were on a separate platform to the architects i.e., ArchiCAD vs Revit, which meant that clash detection methods needed to swiftly be implemented to combat a demanding construction schedule. This was facilitated through weekly ‘LAN Sessions’ held at COA’s Durban office, which turned out to be a first on the professional platform in South Africa.


Umhlanga Arch has succeeded in cohesively combining every element of mixed-use development with a bold design statement that adds vibrancy and life to the rapidly evolving Ridgeside development.

Tokai Estate architects cape town south africa

Best Luxury Retirement Development in South Africa: Tokai Estate


Best Luxury Retirement Development: Tokai

Cape Town, Western Cape, South Africa

Faircape Group

Best Luxury Retirement Development in South Africa: Tokai Estate

The luxury Lifestyle Awards for 2021 have been finalised, and we’re very proud to announce that Tokai Estate has been awarded top laurels once again. This is the second year running that Tokai Estate has been recognized for this prestigious honour.

Best Luxury Retirement Award Criteria

The Luxury Lifestyle Awards (LLA) Committee has strict selection criteria. For best luxury retirement development, the criteria are varied and account for factors in 10 different categories. Tokai Estate was found to be outstanding in all of the following categories:


The LLA Committee assesses for a history of satisfied residents and families.

Tokai Estate has achieved a reputation as the most luxurious and rewarding of all retirement villages in the Western Cape, and with good reason. The village provides a wide array of top-class amenities, services, and quality in all aspects. This proven history has led to the name ‘Tokai Estate’ becoming synonymous with excellence in every regard.


Candidates are reviewed for their track record of quality service provision and the trustworthiness of the organization as represented in licensing, accreditation, and awards.

Tokai Estate is proudly offered in partnership with Old Mutual, a licensed financial services provider. This partnership brings together the expertise from a diverse group of professionals and helps to ensure that service excellence is consistently achieved.


The ability of the retirement development to adapt the specific needs of the resident are considered.

Faircape Life is considerate of the changing demands of retirees and especially the impact that the COVID-19 pandemic has had on residents. Tokai Estate adapted to the needs of their residents during this time in many ways including offering restaurant quality home catering for private functions. In addition the Healthcare Centre multidisciplinary team has been expanded with additional doctors, social workers, physiotherapists and occupational therapists to ensure residents have the care they need on their doorstep.


The situation of the development is assessed for its proximity to services such as hospitals, and amenities like shopping centres, as well as beautiful scenery.

The village achieves top honours in this category. With breathtaking views of the Constaniaberg Mountains Silvermine Nature Reserve and Table Mountain – Tokai Estate is perfectly positioned for a rewarding lifestyle. Wine estates, golf course, shopping malls, and more are all within easy reach.


Nominees are appraised for their commitment to sustainability and minimising any negative impacts on the environment.

In addition to the solar power panels installed at the estate, the landscaped gardens are maintained by a staff horticulturalist to ensure that the plants are predominantly indigenous and can support local bird and bee populations.

Safety & Security

The Committee looks at the strength of security measures, and the proactive use of new technologies to ensure safety. They also assess healthcare facilities within this sub-category.

The Faircape Health Tokai Estate facility, with its multidisciplinary team of health professionals, has achieved a 95% 5- Star review rating. The security features of the village are extensive, and designed for convenience. Access control at the boomed entrance includes a 24/7 manned control room, surveillance cameras, and biometric scanners. The entirety of the perimeter wall is also replete with surveillance cameras, electric fences monitored at all times by trained off-site surveillance professionals.

Facilities & Amenities

The quality and ease of access to additional leisure facilities is evaluated in this category.

Tokai Estate features a gymnasium, scenic pathways, heated swimming pool, club house and more. One of the most standout features of the village in this category is the exceptional calibre of the meals and event services.

Property Management

The expertise of the staff are accounted for in this category.

Tokai Estate was found truly exemplary in this field: housekeeping staff, village manager, catering staff as well as the horticulturalist are noteworthy. Our village staff are always ready with a smile to lend a helping hand in whatever way they can.


Nominees are assessed for how well the latest innovations are integrated into the village.

Tokai Estate features fibre internet infrastructure installed and maintained by Faircom. This infrastructure delivers extremely reliable, high speed internet connectivity for uninterrupted streaming and staying in touch with family and friends.

Recommendations & Reviews

The Committee looks for a long history of positive reviews and recommendations from associated industry professionals and residents.

The village has garnered positive feedback and 5-Star reviews from residents, family, and guests. What makes these reviews and recommendations truly special is the fact that they’re consistently high across an extended period of time. Achieving excellence over years shows true commitment to providing the best luxury retirement. Our Google Reviews alone speak volumes!

Our Commitment to Excellence

At Faircape Life, we’re committed to delivering excellence in all aspects and this award serves to strengthen our resolve. We’re proud to be recognised for our standards of excellence and we will continue to provide residents with only the best in every aspect of living. We can’t wait to see what the future holds.

Gold Coast Single Residential

Introducing Gold Coast Estate


Introducing Gold Coast Estate

Sibaya Coastal Precinct, Durban, KwaZulu Natal, South Africa

From the developers of Ocean Dune Sibaya and Pebble Beach Sibaya comes the exceptional Gold Coast Estate.

Leading Architecture & Design, PARC


Parc at Gold Coast Estate, Sibaya Coastal precinct

Gold Coast Estate, Sibaya Coastal Precinct, Durban, KwaZulu Natal, South Africa

Parc is a residential development comprising 40 duplex type homes arranged around an open park. A contemporary response with the living areas on the ground floor and bedrooms above. The living areas incorporate floor to ceiling and wall to wall openings. This allows for a great flow to the patios & plenty of natural light and ventilation. The bedrooms on the upper floor are expressed as a combination of punctured boxes, walls, and screens. These allow for various levels of privacy depending on the location and orientation of these rooms.

Read the full article

COA recently completed the next phase of the estate, a residential development made up of 40 duplex-type homes arranged around an open park. In keeping with the estate’s emphasis on a healthy, active outdoor lifestyle and focus on family life, the residential units have been designed to engage with and activate the shared space of the park, catalysing the sense of community that develops from communal outdoor space and casual social interactions.

Key “anchor” facilities – the clubhouse on one side and the sports facility on the other – have been placed on either end of the central park, thus activating the path between the two. These facilities offer limited parking, which also encourages residents to walk rather than drive. The residential units are arranged in such a way that they all have gates that directly access the green belt, further encouraging foot traffic and activating the park.

One key departure from the standard approach to units in residential estates was the decision to separate the garages from the units. This created several beneficial consequences.

Firstly, by positioning the garages beneath the estate road, COA freed up considerable space for the park. It also created an opportunity to introduce landscaping around the entrances of the units, creating a richer, more varied, and textured experience of the landscape design of the driveway, and minimising the hard surfaces. Thirdly, it made it possible to open the north-facing side of the units to receive abundant northern light, not to mention making cross-ventilation possible for the natural cooling of the interiors.

The architects introduced extensive planting into the landscaping and in features such as the chamfered cantilever over the garages – not only screening the units from passing cars to enhance privacy, but also creating a pleasing middle ground for their northernly outlook.

The individual units are a contemporary take on the kind of stylistically and climatically appropriate tropical modernism distinctive of the region. COA designed custom-made precast breezeblocks to make eye-catching floating screens that impart a strong identity and architectural character to the estate.

The combination of these screens with off-shutter concrete, contemporary black brick and plastered masonry creates a subtle but rich textural variation, which articulates the functions of the various parts of each unit according to the modernist dictum that form follows function. (It also expresses the distinct identity of each unit as a unique “home” within a harmonious aesthetic approach.)

In general, the living areas are located on the ground floor and bedrooms above. The living areas incorporate floor-to-ceiling and wall-to-wall openings that encourage an indoor-outdoor lifestyle with seamless access to patios. The bedrooms on the upper floor are expressed as a combination of punctured boxes, walls, and screens, which allow for various levels of privacy, depending on the location and orientation of these rooms.

This, together with the clever arrangement of units – some of them mirroring each other so that their garden space is maximized without necessitating high walls – creates a balance of privacy and community, and a pleasing relationship between private and shared space within the estate that offers the best of both worlds.

Leading Architecture & Design, Kinetic Curtain


Gold Coast Estate Sibaya Sports Facility

Gold Coast Estate, Sibaya Coastal Precinct, Durban, KwaZulu Natal, South Africa

The new Sports Facility at the Gold Coast Estate in Sibaya Coastal Precinct, designed by Craft of Architecture not only acts as a place-maker at the entrance of the new estate by makes a striking contribution to the climatically responsive regional tradition.

Read article

Leading Architecture & Design, Kinetic Curtain

Gold Coast Estate on the Kwa-Zulu-Natal North Coast is an architecturally modern luxury family estate, which forms part of the 1000ha Sibaya Coastal Precinct.

The broader precinct includes residential, retail, and commercial developments. The estate emphasizes a healthy, active outdoor lifestyle with a focus on family life. A network of running and biking trails and paths winds through the estate and into the precinct.

One of the estate’s early stand-out features is the sports facility at its entrance, nestled into the landscape alongside the gatehouse and partially visible from the passing highway. Given the prominence of its position, the sports centre has at once to function as a recognizable and welcoming landmark, setting the tone for the aesthetics and identity of the estate, while not upstaging the gatehouse. As such, the architects, Craft of Architecture – who are also responsible for the estate’s aesthetic guidelines – allowed themselves a somewhat individualistic building, encouraging variation within the contemporary architectural framework.

Features of the Gold Coast Estate Facility

The position of the sports centre is also of strategic importance to the urban design of the estate. It is positioned so that it activates an adjacent central park, attracting walkers and bringing life to the communal green space. Limited parking discourages the use of motor vehicles, while promoting walking and cycling in keeping with the active, outdoor lifestyle associated with the estate. It is also placed as a convenient stop when returning to the estate, as well as allowing easy passage out to the rest of the Sibaya Coastal Precinct from the gatehouse.

The sports facility includes a 500m2 gym, a flexible recreational studio space for dance or yoga, a high-altitude training room, and a squash court. Outside, a 25-metre lap pool is positioned along the northern edge of the building, “hunkered” into the landscape where it is protected from the highway, as well as a tennis court to the south. 

In contrast to typically enclosed or artificially lit and mechanically ventilated ‘basement’ gyms, the sports centre offers views, air, and natural light – the workout area even spills out into a covered outdoor area. A two-storey modernist-inspired ‘glass box’ thus forms the basis of the design, providing a simple and efficient ‘skeleton’, while a protective aluminum mesh brise-soleil wraps around the building on its upper level, resolving both challenges in terms of heat gain and shelter from the sun, as well as concern for privacy. (Perforated and laser-cut screens were also used on the gatehouse, providing a degree of continuity between the adjacent buildings.)

Inside the Gold Coast Sports Facility

Inside, the use of space has been maximized – the plinth of the stairs includes storage, and also functions as seating for spectators watching matches in the central squash court.

The screen itself gives the facility its primary identity and aesthetic impact, COA devised the brise-soleil as a kinetic screen, made from 14 000 perforated aluminum tiles individually mounted on pins, allowing them to ripple and shimmer when activated by the wind.

Although the essential mechanism is simple, challenges in terms of acoustics (rattling) and wear and tear had to be resolved with the use of a gasket or plastic sleeve that not only prevents noise, but is robust enough to withstand constant movement without corrosion or degradation. 


Although the design team explored several design iterations with varying degrees of complexity, size, pattern and colour, they found that a uniform skin and small tiles best expressed the effect of the wind and provided the desired rippling effect. The rounded corners of the screen allow a sense of uninterrupted movement to flow around the perimeter of the building, which would not have been possible with corners. 

The aluminum tiles have a milled or matte finish to prevent harsh reflections of sunlight from the outside. They are perforated to allow views from the inside, as if through a shifting curtain. The screen’s nature as a ‘second skin’ is further articulated by the use of a black brick façade on the southern end of the building. The brick surface seems to slip behind the screen, heightening the multi-layered effect while amply demonstrating that the design responds to the site and conditions inside and outside the building, not simply applying a preconceived idea.

The kinetic skin not only joins and advances the regional tradition of responsive design associated with Durban’s subtropical climate, but it also, in animating the movement of the wind, becomes part of an ongoing local community conversation, responding to and articulating environmental and climatic changes. In this coastal setting, changes in weather and wind conditions play an important part in the everyday life of the community and are a central topic of conversation among groups ranging from surfers to fisherman.

The brise-soleil in tropical modernist architecture in hot climates is a tried-and-tested shading device and an effective way to catch natural cooling breezes. Its expressive, communicative character also links it to other innovative contemporary precedents such as the Millennium Tower on the Bluff designed by Don Albert & Partners, which, through its movement, coveys information about the tide and wind direction.

As such, the sports facility at Gold Coast Estate Sibaya makes a striking and creative contribution not just to the precinct, but to the local architectural tradition, while both encouraging and expressing the active, outdoorsy character of the local lifestyle.

Vamizi Private Village Hotels and Lodges

Just in Time for Summer Break!

Estate Guidelines, Featured Projects, Hotels & Lodges

Vamizi Island Private Villas

Vamizi Island, Quirimbas Archipelago, Mozambique

Vamizi Island is one of COA’s feature projects. 6 private villas have been designed and built in ways to compliment this pristine environment – enjoy!

As seen in the Financial Times: 

November 11, 2018

Marianna Giusti 

Reef diving and conservation in Mozambique

“Vamizi Island, one of andBeyond’s three eco resorts off the north coast of Mozambique, east Africa, was the destination for two guide-led trips in 2019 (March 14-19 and October 9 -14).

The island lies at the heart of one of the world’s healthiest coral reefs, with 180 species of coral and 400 species of reef fish. Accompanied by Dr Tessa Hempson, a leading marine biologist, guests will gain unparalleled insights into the ecology of the island, joining in conservation work such as measuring reef systems.

There will be kayaking opportunities and, for the experienced, a trip to Neptune’s Arm, a submarine plateau legendary amongst divers. A five-night stay in one of six private villas costs $10,775, including a $1,500 donation to andBeyond and Africa Foundation’s Oceans Without Borders conservation programme in east Africa.”

BIM, the tool mastered by COA

BIM, the design and collaborative tool mastered by COA

Architectural projects are inherently complex, from ideation to documentation, to detailing and informative presentation to clients. BIM (Building Information Modelling) is an increasingly essential tool in this multi-tiered and collaborative design process.

The cloud-based service is accessible at a multitude of levels, of which COA is the most advanced Graphisoft/BIM office in the country. As a result, we use BIM in a highly integrated manner, enabling some of the most efficient and effective communication from clients to construction teams. COA Director, Ian Gray, elaborates on the reality which BIM creates.

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Devmco Diaries – Umhlanga Arch

Devmco Diaries – Umhlanga Arch

For more information on this project, please see the Umhlanga Arch Feature project or view more of our  Commercial & Mixed-Use projects.

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