Adhir Imrith (33) is one of the lead engineers involved in the development of Park Square – Durban’s much anticipated new mixed-use development on uMhlanga Ridge. As an Associate at Arup South Africa, a leading global designing, planning and execution firm in the built environment, Adhir has been at the forefront of innovative design and planning over the last few years.

Adhir grew up in Durban and graduated with a BSc. Civil Engineering degree from the University of KwaZulu-Natal. While completing his degree, he interned at Arup – an experience that changed his life, as well as his approach to engineering and design. In the 11 years after he joined Arup as a graduate, Adhir has been identified as a growing leader, both in the industry and in the firm. He now finds himself leading key projects with his own unique vision and drive for innovation.

“At Arup, we have a very specific way of embracing our role in the built environment,” explains Adhir. “We have a very on-the-ground approach to urbanisation – this means we can see design solutions from all angles, addressing multiple needs. We refer to this ‘Total Architecture’”.

According to Adhir the concept of ‘Total Architecture’ works hand in hand with the idea of ‘Total Design’. So, what does this mean and how do these concepts interact and ultimately impact the process? “There is a deliberate collaboration and an added value to the wider team that comes out of a strong emphasis of working closely with both the client and the team,” he says. “Ultimately this level of collaboration creates a better-built environment,” he adds.

A great example of the power of this collaborative approach is Park Square. There was a very strong working relationship between the architect, Jarryd Murray of MAP Architects, and Imrith. Adhir unpacks the thinking: “With Park Square uMhlanga, the engineering of the structure was shaped to complement the architectural vision – but at the same time the architecture was shaped to genuinely embrace the structure of the building – the two were very much interlinked.

“Park Square’s iconic large spaces and raking columns, though required from a structural point of view, have been beautifully expressed through the architecture and design,” explains Adhir. He goes on to say that one of the greatest but fulfilling engineering challenges to overcome in the design of Park Square was the iconic Nedbank lobby. “The architectural intent for the lobby was to create a large volume with minimal support, this coupled with raking slabs, hanging walkways and complex façade interfaces resulted in two ‘chopstick’ like steel raking columns that have become a signature of the building. It is this respect and trust between structural engineer and architect that enables great architecture and design”.

The success of Park Square’s design and development is a consequence of the extraordinary team involved and Imrith’s giant leap from graduate to associate – reflective of the impact that he has made on the development sector and uMhlanga Ridge’s most sought-after retail and premium commercial development.