Alliance Française de Durban: an Alliance « without walls ».

The Alliance Française de Durban has decided to knock down its walls.

The objective is to challenge the perception of crime and to eliminate the perception of alienating neighbours. It will also allow people to see the Alliance from outside.

The project was initiated at the end of 2014 . M. Vincent Frontczyk, the Alliance Française de Durban’s director, has been working on the project since September 2015. The project is a cause close to his heart.

Recent research by Professor Monique Marks of the Durban University of Technology and Brian Jackson of Blue Security shows that crime rates are higher in places surrounded by walls. The Alliance Française was also assisted by Mr.Tinus Kruger, principal research architect at The Council for Scientific and Industrial Research and his studies on Crime Prevention through Environmental Design (CPTED). The Alliance Française de Durban has become part of this case study.

In order to choose an architect, a competition entitled ‘Imagine a world without walls’ was set up. Paul Wijgers won the competition and the project is now under way.

In South Africa, this project is a good example of bringing people together and employing a spirit of ‘everyone is welcome’.


Pushing down the walls: left to right: Vincent Frontczyk: Director Alliance Francaise de Durban; Trishana Naidu; Prof Monique Marks and Paul Wijgers
Picture credit : Publicity Matters

Read the interview of M. Vincent Frontczyk about this project:

When did you become the director of the Alliance Française de Durban?

I became the director of the Alliance Française de Durban in September 2015.

How did you come up with this idea?

This idea started with the former director. The Alliance Française was too often seen as a private club reserved for the French community and/or elitist. The Alliance Française needs a redevelopement of its exterior in order to be more representative of its identity : creative , dynamic and open to all.

Now I carry on with the project.

What changes do you think this will make in terms of the perception of the Alliance?

The purpose of the project is to propose a model of iconic , socio-cultural architecture in the city of Durban. The three main objectives are :

• Be more visible
• Be more attractive through an original and creative proposal
• Be more innovative by proposing a new urban model to capture the attention of the media

Why is this project so important for you?

It is quite unique to think what the Alliance Française de Durban will be like in the next 10 or 20 years, since the project has a long term vision for future urban development in the city. It also has to do with the values of openness, exchange and solidarity on which the Alliance Française is founded. At present the high walls which surround the building are in fact in contradiction of these values.

In short, I think that the project is quite exceptional within the network of Alliance Française.

Did people complain about the walls?

Yes, thanks to a series of interviews with users of Alliance Française and inhabitants of the neighbourhood carried out by Ms Marion Guerreiro, intern at the Durban University of Technology, the majority considered the walls not to be aesthetic and moreover they did not seem safe because one cannot see what is happening inside or outside.

When will the project be completed?

We hope to finish the work in the first six months of 2017.
We will shortly be starting a fundraising campaign to finance the project.

Facebook page of the Alliance Française de Durban

publie le 06/09/2016

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