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The City of eThekwini has announced that it is well underway with arrangements to host what it calls the “World Cup of Architects”, the UIA2014 Congress. The event includes activations across the city that will run from July to September, plus the main event: the 25th International Union of Architects World Congress from 3 to 7 August, entitled “Architecture Otherwhere Durban 2014″, at the Durban Exhibition Centre opposite the Durban International Convention Centre.

This year the UIA Congress aims to “celebrate the African profession as a meaningful contributor to world architecture, city development and thought leadership. The congress also serves to acknowledge the continent’s contribution to the evolution of architecture globally.”

Delegates and speakers will include architects, engineers, designers, technologists, planners and writers from all over the world, who will spend the time in talks, workshops and events.

Durban looks forward to hosting the largest gathering of architects ever held in southern Africa and intends UIA2014 Durban to serve as a launch pad for three urban regeneration projects, each one focusing on stimulating interest in the built environment sector and focus on Durban’s inner city. These will become visible around the city during the next few weeks.

In preparation for the build-up of these activations, a number of road closures and diversions will be put in place from now until the end of the Congress:

- Dr Pixley Ka Seme Linear Park: Dr Pixley ka Seme Street will be reduced from four lanes to two lanes from 14 July to 10 September. The lane reduction of Pixley ka Seme Street will begin from Stalwart Simelane Street to Mahatma Gandhi Road. This area will become a pedestrian priority zone and motorists are requested to be cautious while driving in this section. This activation will showcase what is possible with the creation of a high quality, pedestrian-priority public space for people who live and work in the city to relax, exercise and play.

- The River Town Precinct: John Milne Road will be closed from 20 July to 15 August from North Lane to Morrison Road. This project provides an opportunity for the regeneration in the inner city. Arts and culture initiatives and exhibitions will be run during the Congress to show the opportunities that exist for bringing investment, sustainability and vibrancy back to the area.

In addition, Pocket Parks will operate in and around the city to emphasise the importance of nature, providing a place for relaxation, play areas for children and small spaces for activities, events or street cafes, where people can socialise.

Other areas involving the general public include the Fringe Programme, which will showcase local, national and international talent and take place in a range of “Otherwhere” and City venues. The Trade Expo in the Durban Exhibition Centre (DEC) promises to offer the latest product developments, technological innovations and service offerings in the world of architecture and design.

The website lists a range of accommodation and dining establishments in and around Durban, plus a broad variety of sightseeing opportunities, including the city’s Art Deco-style buildings, major landmarks, museums, religious buildings and tourism destinations.

For more information go to www.uia2014durban.org.

Pictured above is Bernard Weber, founder and president of New7Wonders, revealing the 21 qualifying cities at the Torre de Belem in Lisbon, Portugal, the city where the first-ever New7Wonders campaign declaration event took place on 07/07/07. Durban is listed sixth on the left. (Photo Credit: world.new7wonders.com)

- See more at: http://www.hotelandrestaurant.co.za/tourism/international-architects-descend-on-durban/#sthash.OTeVgQ1c.dpuf