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Public transportation as a generator for change in architectural identity : the revitalization of the old Pietermaritzburg railway station into a main transport interchange.

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South Africa, like most developing countries, has struggled with the effects of economic globalization. This, through apartheid, has caused a reduction in policy barriers to trade and investment amongst other things including limiting the country’s ability to keep up with the technologies of the western world. This becomes evident in South Africa’s lack of technologically advanced infrastructure in most sectors of the built environment in relation to the west. This lack of technology has affected the public transportation industry whereby there currently remains a decline in safer modes of public transit to the extent that the 'unsafe', yet popular mini-bus taxi seems to be the most utilized mode of public commuting, especially amongst the non-white population. This is of great concern in that there are many vehicle accidents caused by the mini-bus taxi drivers’ recklessness on public roads which has led to an increase in the number of deaths to commuters. The concern for commuter safety is further exacerbated by the high volume of freight trucks occupying the same roads on a daily basis particularly on the N3 national road between the city of Pietermaritzburg and Durban. The aim of this study is to motivate for the return of a much safer and reliable mode of public transportation being that of rail transit, except that in this modern day period trains are more technologically advanced which will add to an increase in the running cost with a fear that this may be passed on to the commuter. There has to be a concerted effort to re-introduce rail commuting between Pietermaritzburg and Durban as well as to other outlying areas. There is particular interest to revitalize the old Pietermartizburg railway station, which is currently home to a heritage 'gem' being that of the old train station building, by introducing a new train station building representative of a new period in rail transit architecture. Theories like Historicism, Phenomenology and Tectonic Expression will be explored along with concepts such as 'change', 'movement' and 'visual connection' in support of an argument to retain the existing train station building in its original form while introducing a new Modern train station building. The decision to keep the old train station building is a way of ensuring a strong connection with Pietermaritzburg's colonial history and remembrance of the effects of apartheid while the introduction of a new train station building represents South Africa's ambition to be a part of this current Modern and technologically advanced era of equal opportunity. Various precedent and case studies of similar typologies will be explored including the distribution of questionnaires and carrying out of interviews in support this argument.


Masters in Architecture. University of KwaZulu-Natal, Howard College 2014.


Railroads -- Buildings and structures -- South Africa -- Pietermaritzburg., Transportation -- South Africa -- Pietermaritzburg., Choice of transportation -- South Africa -- Pietermaritzburg., Architecture, British colonial -- South Africa -- Pietermaritzburg., Public architecture -- South Africa -- Pietermaritzburg., Theses -- Architecture., Old Pietermaritzburg railway station.