Nazareth House building gets a renewed lease on life

Perched above the Durban city centre and Indian Ocean, the leafy suburb of Berea features an eclectic mix of architectural styles that hint at the colonial days of old. Amongst the various Victorian, Edwardian, Art Deco and Modern architectural gems stands a 117 year old building that up until recently was known as Nazareth House. The former retirement home, frail care centre and children’s home has recently undergone an extensive upgrade to prepare for its new function – the largest private mental health facility in KwaZulu-Natal.


As the building is recognised as one of the province’s architectural landmarks by Amafa – the provincial heritage conservation agency of KwaZulu-Natal – it was imperative that its historical character be retained whilst upgrades were made. Specialist contractors Gordon Verhoef and Krause, with their restoration and renovation expertise, were selected to complete the project.


Johnny Botes, managing director of the group’s operation in KwaZulu-Natal, explains, “We repainted and revamped the interior of the building to create private and semi-private rooms, counselling and treatment rooms, lounges and dining rooms as well as a coffee shop and gym. We also preserved the heritage features by restoring precious elements such as the mosaic floors and, where possible, used many of the existing materials such as window frames, doorframes and architraves.”


In addition to upgrading the building’s interior to provide comfortable facilities for the treatment and care of patients; GVK also converted the chapel whilst ensuring that original features, such as its intricate stained-glass windows and high vaulted ceilings, were carefully preserved. The team also constructed an electro-convulsive therapy theatre and nursing college.


The newly renovated facility will specialise in the short term treatment of patients with psychiatric disorders, including those associated with substance dependence or other addictions. It will also provide treatment and care for persons affected by mood and anxiety disorders, personality disorders, psychotic disorders, eating or psycho-geriatric disorders. Currently 80 beds are available to members of the KZN community with plans underway to expand the bed capacity by a further 20 later this year.

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