Owner of The Chairman and architect, Ndabo Langa, tells us about his neighbourhood.
Ndabo Langa works day and night. He’s an architect and the founder of DGIT Architects in Durban and he’s the designer and owner of a stylish jazz club, The Chairman at the Point Waterfront, which is a testament to his vision for the regeneration of the unloved, neglected parts of Durban.
Ndabo is clearly drawn to projects in need of TLC. “When we heard my wife, Mpume, was expecting our second child, we realised it was time to abandon our lock-up-and-go lifestyle in beautiful Halford Road on the Berea. We found a home in Glenashley, Durban North, and although it needed a serious amount of TLC, we saw it as an opportunity to recreate it to suit our growing family and lifestyle.”
Ndabo says they knew they’d buy the property from the moment they saw it. “The old, oversized trees and overgrown vegetation in an almost 2,000m2 plot did the talking.”
That was nine years ago. “Our apprehension around abandoning a village-type neighbourhood, where we knew most of our neighbours, for a suburb characterised by high fences, was relieved by other factors, like proximity to the city, where most of my interests are, as well as the fast developing northern suburbs. All the essential amenities like schools, parks and nature reserves are only a stone’s throw away – in fact, walking distance.”
Durban North is perfectly positioned to access the city, or to head north to the retail haven of La Lucia or Umhlanga, as well as Virginia and King Shaka International airports. Glenashley is a family suburb, with smaller regional shopping hubs, but where larger amenities are only a few minutes’ drive away. Homes are on larger, well-established stands and good schools are plentiful and easily accessible. Ndabo says their home is their refuge.
“Altering the existing house to suit our interests meant gutting it completely and creating one big living space that embraces views and celebrates the lush, tropical and expansive greenery outside. We focused more on building a liveable and homely environment, while preserving the ’50s mid-century feel. Our furniture and various artefacts complement that retro era.” Ndabo is an antique furniture and artefacts-hunter, so there’s no doubt that the ’50s feel will be authentic.
For his co¬ffee fix, Ndabo spends his time at the Seattle Co¬ffee Company in Virginia Circle, and for meals out, they visit Green Parrot on MacKeurtan Avenue. And on Sundays? “After a night out at The Chairman, nothing beats relaxing at home with extended family.”
I work long hours in my practice, and even longer, when I spend nights at The Chairman, so having speedy, easy access home to town and back, gives me more home and family time
Nature spots in Durban North:
- Several beautiful beaches
- Umgeni River Green Hub
- Beachwood Mangroves Nature Reserve
Schools in Durban North:
- Durban North College
- Durban North Primary School
- Virginia Preparatory School
- Northlands Girls’ High School
- Northlands Primary
- Northwood Boy’s High
- Glenashley Preparatory
- Chelsea Preparatory School
- Danville Park Girls' High School
- Lady of Fatima Dominican Convent School – private school
Dine out in Durban North:
- Mama Luciana’s: for fresh and tasty Italian food
- Al Firenze: for family-friendly meals
- Lupa Osteria: for delectably fresh pizza and pasta
- Indian Summer: for authentic Indian food
- Plan B Dessertery: for quirky sweet Creations
Why we love Kensington Square and Broadway Shopping Centre:
Fifty years ago, Kensington Square was built in Broadway on Kensington Drive (Adelaide Tambo Drive) to serve the Durban North community. Today, Kensington Square has undergone a major revamp and expansion to also include the Broadway Shopping Centre.
The centre’s major drawcard is its array of speciality shops and national retail brands, restaurants and fast food outlets.
The centre offers one-hour free on-site parking, 24-hour security and wheelchair facilities for an inclusive and safe shopping experience.
[Find out more at kensingtonsquare.co.za].
This article originally appeared in Neighbourhood,Sunday Times.