Hilton Garden Inn at Umhlanga Arch

Umhlanga, Durban, KwaZulu Natal, South Africa

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The brief provided to Craft of Architecture architects for the hotel component was to arrange all the required 203 rooms in a 25m wide predetermined zone between the residences and the access road. Further to maximize on the building height & exposure to develop a landmark hotel. This is the first Hilton Garden Inn in South Africa.

The rooms have been arranged over 14 floors with an outlook up and down the coastline. This aspect gives the rooms a unique character and identity. A large single pane of performance glass was used for the vision panel in the rooms to enjoy the unobstructed view.

The vision panels are in an irregular arrangement on the façade. This creates contrast from the adjacent building and interest within the rooms as the differing window positions create subtle variations in the rooms. The pattern is further played up by the addition of aluminum cladding and protruding fins that give the façade some depth. A pallet of warm greys and copper was chosen to relate to the urban surroundings but also to the colour of the local beach sand.

The edge of the façade facing the street comes to the ground level in a dramatic sculptural ‘Y’ shaped column to create presence on the street level. The hotel features a sunny pool deck, conferencing facilities, dining, lounges & gym. The challenge that was well executed by the architects was to create a unique language for the hotel & set a precedent for the brands entry into the region.

This design was coordinated within a complex mixed-use development and delivered on time within a very tight program. It is very noticeable how the hotel design is people and location centered. The rooms with the views of the beach and how the hotel lobby & public areas connect to the leafy park at the fully glazed entry. The hotel lounge and dining areas spill out under a covered pergola that runs adjacent to the park and shopping high street. This relationship activates both realms and creates vital sustainable people centered environment.

Internally a variety of textures and colors is used to create a light and airy feeling that the brand represents. The spatial flow is very effective and intuitive. This is achieved with large open public spaces and considered planning. The back of house facilities are located on a different floor to the public realm.

Devmco Group
Complete 2021

Photographer: Grant Pitcher

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