The role of public art galleries has internationally been revolutionised to incorporate a multiplicity of functions, resulting in a complex set if interrelationships between these. Consequently, the position of the Durban Art Gallery has changed in a quantitative and a qualitative manner. The image of a new Durban Art Gallery will be crucial for the establishment of the cultural status of the city and will be influenced by the theoretical, cultural and aesthetic factors. Similary, the location of the new gallery and the contextual framework within which it is placed, will be vital. In addition, the needs of the Durban community will have to be established to appropriately contextualise the new gallery. Architectural precedent studies highlight successful and unsuccessful approaches for similar design briefs, while a case study of the existing gallery establishes more detailed accommodation and environmental requirements. Design guidelines generated by this critical analysis will inform the proposal for a new contextually relevant public Durban Art Gallery.