Zimbali Coastal Resort is a premier residential estate and resort set in coastal forest estate on the sub tropical north coast of Kwazulu Natal in South Africa.

It was developed after a history of attempts by others, by Tongaat Hullett Properties, the property development arm of a listed conglomerate company who were a major sugar cane farming and refining entity.

The Estate was developed in 3 phases/sections which coincided with the different three different environment types found.  Like wise the administrative/sales facilities needed to respond to the Estate growth.

The original sales and administration was on the “holy hill” in the coastal forest area designated as conservation and comprised portable offices and a specially designed and built sales and meeting room. It was built to reflect the desired style of architecture in the Estate. Kevin Lloyd was responsible for the design and documentation. This building is today an environmental exhibition centre within the estate still within the conservation area.

Through two moves using portable cabins as offices the architects Kevin Lloyd Architects were given the brief to design and document a new Sales, Administrative and Development Offices Building.

The Estate architectural language was inspired by the Balinese style because it addressed the climatic conditions and it was adapted using the colour and materials of the African continent. The initial buildings had strong stylistic resemblance to the Indonesian islands


The Estate as it stood at the time of the briefing had three entrances. The site needed to be positioned where the administration of the Estate in its many different aspects could operate at its most efficient, where the Sales Centre could interface in style with the public without the security clearance requirements, and where the Welcoming Reception for rental and hotel guests presented a pleasant and easy access to the place they were going to stay.

Land being so valuable, little was left for such a facility and the existing original Landscaping Contractors maintenance offices and yards were chosen to be altered to the new office/ sales centre. This stood adjacent the main northern entrance from the town of Ballito, adjacent the Contractors/Staff Gate and close to the old Zimbali Lodge and Clubhouse

The site was relatively level except it was 3 metres above the Main Entrance Gate needing a ramped vehicle access, but it had prominence based on the height of the site. The property was triangular in shape with a section of land abutting it which was outside the Estate initially providing security issues but it was subsequently developed into DASH housing and a convenience shopping centre

The existing two workshops insides were to be gutted and exterior walls kept with a new floor being added above.

Original building


Use the existing buildings and modify to suit the new use.

Architecture to reflect the Architectural style of the Estate.

The buildings to house the Home Owners Administrative Offices, the Developers satellite offices, the Foreign Investors/Co Developers local headquarter offices, Sales Centre, Conveyancers Offices and the Meet and Greet centre for the Estate House Rental operation.

Theses would be grouped together as related to how they needed to be in association. In time only the Home Owners Administrative Offices, the Foreign Investors/Co Developers local headquarter offices, Sales Centre, the Meet and Greet centre for the Estate House Rental operation remained and took over the earlier function’s offices. So the office space had to be flexible in respect to tenant size and to office layout. The design was to accommodate open plan, cellular offices, receptions, board rooms, entertainment/presentation space kitchens, ablutions for each tenant with the entity able to have its own defined and secured space and possibly entrance.

The budget and building period were set to achieve the predetermined spend and date of occupation.

The site was 4606 msq in area and the built area was 2046msq with car parking for 58 cars.


The project was tendered with as BOQ, full set of detailed architects, engineers and interior designer drawings. The building was built in 12 months at a cost of R16 000 000.

The project build was challenging in that the existing buildings shell was maintained and a structure was built around and on top. Prestressed off site manufactured floor slabs were trucked to site and erected with a huge crane. Fortunately the site location on the boundary of the Estate made access with such equipment and material possible. Space on site was limited for the storage of the roof trusses which were reused.

The use of steel columns, pre manufactured concrete floor slabs, timber lattice ring beams assisted in the fast track building process and requirement. There were several special details and finishes requiring skill and experience which the contractor and team successfully undertook, such as the concrete on timber roofs on steel post walk way, plaster finishes and timber ring beam, strip windows and aluminium louvres.

Today the building continues to function as it was planned with some of the smaller uses now having moved out and the major tenants now owners of the respective blocks.

Project team

  • MLC – QS
  • VELAVKE – Structural Engineers
  • VELAVKE – Civil Engineers
  • PARTNERS IN DESIGN – Interior Designers
  • ALLISON AND HARDING – Main contractors
  • GOLDEN CIRCLE – Landscapers

We as the architects, strove to move the architectural language of the Estate towards a more contemporary interpretation with flat linking timber and steel structure concrete flat roofs, with buildings of clean lines, strong forms, minimum decoration, floating pitched clay tile roofs and courtyard between the two blocks. The goal was achieved as the Estate architecture moved more to a less stylized architecture to one of more lightness and natural materials

The top floors had a roof covered verandah on each end which together with the continuous strip of windows gave the roof a floating effect. Below this was a brick plastered heavy plinth which was a floor and a metre high. The roof was supported by steel columns in the window line and a timber ring beam spanning from column to column within the roof space to support the roof. The windows on the ground floor were treated as holes punched in the solid plinth. The plaster finish was varied with two types of texture so as to give a subtle sense of depth together with the paint colours. Where interface was required with the exterior and then the widows stretched between thick brick pillars or within a covered verandah space.

The blocks were linked with a flat roofed pergola which was also used to define the entrances to the blocks and reduce the scale of the plinths where required. It also serves as a break out space for a smoke from the open plan offices. This was a plywood sheet laid over regularly spaced timber beams on a steel beam painted mat grey silver. On top was cast an exposed aggregate concrete for aesthetics and for weather protection. The steel structure was expressed as cantilevering chamfered horizontal beams also adding a little lightness to the building.

The existing wide buildings were framed with concrete columns cast in holes cut in the brick walls and concrete ring beam to take large span prestressed concrete floor planks plus minus 12 m wide, This allowed a complete free space internally so as to give the flexibility the client had requested.

The courtyard between the buildings was walled, on two sides with a covered walk way and glazed exhibition space on the other two sides. It had decking, planting, pebble beds and a coral tree and was a spill over space for functions and staff relaxation.

Services were houses atop and within a solid looking block on the long sides of the buildings. Parking was placed in front and behind the side of the building with carports integrated into the architecture. These are reticulated in the dropped bulkhead of the passage spine

Landscaping was important to take a bare workshop site to a coastal forest type environment so as to reflect the ethos of the Estate. Years on this has indeed happened where the planting almost dominates the buildings. The water feature at the Main Gate was seen as part of the approach to the building and was redesigned to give a more natural look together with the bronze bush buck sculptures commissioned for the Estate.