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Born: 1871 03 01
Died: 1945 03 22


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Was born in Prussia, according to the South African Who's Who (1908) and educated at Tilsit College in Germany from 1882 until 1890. He studied architecture in Strelitz, Stuttgart and Munich and did his military service with the Royal Engineers in Munich from October 1894 to October 1895. In 1896 Kallenbach came to South Africa and settled in Johannesburg. He seems to have been accompanied by two brothers. Soon after his arrival in Johannesburg KALLENBACH entered into partnership with one PHILLIPS, plans for the Maurice Building (1897) being drawn up and signed by the partners (cf. KALLENBACH & PHILLIPS).

KALLENBACH left Johannesburg for Durban at the outbreak of the Anglo-Boer War and designed several buildings in Durban, the most important being Koenig's Building (completed by 1903) and later renamed St Andrew's Building. This five-storey building with a columnated facade of stone and twin cupolas brought Johannesburg urbanity to Durban, its closed, business frontage in marked contrast to the open balconies of the neighbouring Durban Club and Marine Hotel. KALLENBACH returned to Johannesburg about 1903; Longland's directory (1903) listed KALLENBACH in partnership with PHILLIPS but after 1903 there was no further record of PHILLIPS in Johannesburg and by 1903 KALLENBACH seems to have been in partnership with A REYNOLDS (cf. KALLENBACH & REYNOLDS) since certain buildings by this partnership date from 1903. The partners had offices in Durban, Johannesburg and Pretoria.

According to Indian Opinion (28 January 1955) KALLENBACH met Mohandas K Gandhi in 1904, although some sources give 1906, and certainly Gandhi was renting premises in Pretoria from KALLENBACH in 1906 while addressing KALLENBACH as 'Dear Mr Kallenbach.' KALLENBACH's friendship with Gandhi became an important focus in his life and Gandhi's own writings provide character sketches of KALLENBACH, the only available information of this nature so far found. According to Gandhi (1929:293), KALLENBACH was introduced to him (n.d.) by a Mr Khan (possibly Kazi Behlol Khan) who discovered in KALLENBACH 'deep down ... a vein of otherworldliness and introduced him to me. Then I came to know him I was startled at his love of luxury and extravagance ... at that time he was single, and was spending Rs 1 200 monthly on himself, over and above house rent. Now he reduced himself to such simplicity that his expenses came to Rs 120 per month.' The reference to KALLENBACH's love of luxury corresponds to some other possible lines of business sponsored by the Kallenbachs: the United Transvaal Directory (1907) listed a Kallenbach as an importer of delicacies from Europe. Yet another Kallenbach (Kallenbach & Driman) was secretary to the Edward Diamond Prospecting Syndicate, sharing the same address as Kallenbach & Reynolds in Sacke's Building, Johannesburg, which was designed by Kallenbach & Reynolds between 1903 and 1904. It is possible that by this date Kallenbach was already speculating in land and in township development; subsequently Kallenbach Drive in Johannesburg was built 'presumably named after Hermann KALLENBACH, a township-owner' (Smith 1971:262). He is said to have been responsible for the building of Munro Drive in Johannesburg and to have built Sylvia Pass himself with the help of some labourers, a firm believer in the beneficial effect of manual labour. He handed the pass over to the city council on its completion. According to Smith (1971), KALLENBACH owned the township of Linksfield Ridge (Doornfontein No. 24) where he himself lived. KALLENBACH's wealth was allowed him freedom from regular practice to attend to his other interests but he secured able partners for the efficient running of his practice, in particular AM KENNEDY.

So far no certain date exists for the commencement of KALLENBACH's partnership with AM Kennedy (cf. KALLENBACH & KENNEDY); it probably dated from about 1903. In 1913 Kennedy left for Canada. By this time KALLENBACH was strongly committed to the Indian civil rights movement which must have left KENNEDY with a large share in running the business. His commitment to the issues surrounding the Indian National Congress was deep. Not only had he funded Phoenix Farm (established in 1904) for the Satyagraha in about 1909, but in 1910 bought land near Lawley outside Johannesburg, donating it to the same cause. Gandhi named it Tolstoy Farm in honour of Leo Tolstoy, whom he admired and with whom he corresponded. Here KALLENBACH taught sandal-making, a skill he had learnt from the Trappist monks he met in Natal at Marrianhill during the Anglo-Boer War.

KALLENBACH always emphasised the need for a fit, healthy existence. He was a fruitarian, and at some point in his life had been taught to box by one Sandor. Further disruption to his architectural practice (possibly the last straw for KENNEDY) occurred when he was arrested in November 1913 for taking part in the Newcastle (Natal) protest march; he was released after several weeks and the intervention of the Colonial Secretary in London.

The partners KALLENBACH & KENNEDY entered the competition for the new (Great) synagogue in Wolmarans Street in Johannesburg in 1911/1912 but were unsuccessful (the competition was won by T SCHAERER.) KALLENBACH, however, obtained the commission for the Greek Orthodox Church of St Constantine the Great (1912-1913) in the same street and it is not unlikely that he submitted the same or a similar design in each case since both completed buildings refer to the Byzantine tradition and are surmounted by huge domes. In 1914 KALLENBACH left South Africa in the company of Gandhi and Gandhi's wife. According to Gandhi (1929:322) KALLENBACH had hoped to accompany Gandhi to India but was not allowed to do so by the British authorities because of his German origins (the First World War had evidently commenced by this time); Gandhi commented, 'It was a great wrench for me to part with Mr KALLENBACH, but I could see that his pang was greater. Could he have come to India, he would have been leading today the simple happy life of a farmer and weaver. Now he is in South Africa, leading his old life and doing brisk business as an architect' (Gandhi 1929:322.)

KALLENBACH remained in Britain for several years, an associate of Olive Schreiner amongst others, clear in an extract from a biography on Schreiner which states 'Hermann Kallenbach, a German businessman, settled in the Witwatersrand in 1896. An associate of Gandhi's, he corresponded with Tolstoy and believed in vegetarianism. He gave Olive Schreiner help with her diet in the years in London and also ran errands for her, especially when she was ill. Schreiner's letter to Gandhi about Gandhi's stance in the War (the First World War) was actually sent to KALLENBACH' (First & Scott 1980:304.) For some time KALLENBACH was detained in the Aliens' Detention Camp in Douglas, Isle of Man.

The date of his return to South Africa is not certain but he was listed again in Johannesburg in the 1921 United Transvaal Directory but not as an architect. Although his friendship with Gandhi continued, KALLENBACH seems to have returned to his professional life in Johannesburg and turned to Zionism: 'he was a Zionist, but Zionism to him was not a negative phenomenon ... Modern Palestine was to him an ethical and social experiment with a message to Jewry and to the world' (Rand Daily Mail 26.3.1945.)

After his return to South Africa, he persuaded AM KENNEDY to leave Canada and take up the old partnership in about 1921. KALLENBACH is rumoured to have been the businessman in the partnership, bringing in the work, backed up by KENNEDY's strengths in the office. From about 1923/1924 the partners designed a number of buildings in Durban, Pretoria and Johannesburg. In 1928 the firm was joined by AS FURNER (cf. KALLENBACH, KENNEDY & FURNER). Architecturally speaking the years between 1928 and 1945, when Kallenbach died, were the richest years of the firm's existence since Furner was a talented designer who knew what was going on in modern architecture world-wide.

KALLENBACH's last overseas visit was to India and Gandhi in 1945. During this visit Gandhi tried to persuade KALLENBACH to forgive the Nazi holocaust but KALLENBACH said he could not. In the 1940s he designed a simple brick home for those of the Gandhi family still in Phoenix and died a few weeks later. His library, some 5 000 volumes, was sent to the University of Jerusalem in 1955 as he willed, and the bulk of his fortune was left to benefit Israel.

ISAA 1927. (Afr Archt Dec 1912:96; Afr Archt Jul 1913:v; First & Scott 1980; Fisher 1966; Gandhi 1929; Herbert 1975; Hillebrand 1975; Huttenback 1971; Indian Opinion 28/1/1955; Kallenbach Papers, LHM, Dbn; Kallenbach Papers, Brenthurst Libr; Norwich 1985, 1989; ISAA mem list; Picton-Seymour 1977; RDM 23.3.45; RDM 28.4.84:8; The Sunday Times 25.3.45; The Star 16.7.1985 ill; SAAR Mar 1945:60 obit; SAWW 1908, 1910, 1929/30; Smith 1971; South African Jewish Year Book 1929; SA Libr MSC26; UTD 1907, 1921, 1934; Van der Waal 1987)

Transcribed from the Who's Who of 1927.

KALLENBACH, Hermann, Architect. Practising since 1896 at Johannesburg, and at Pretoria and Durban : and since 1922 as Senior Partner of the firm of Kallenbach & Kennedy, Architects, at Johannesburg and .Durban. Carried out numerous Commercial Buildings, Hotels, Residential Blocks, Churches and Residences in the Transvaal, Natal, Cape Colony and Orange Free State, amongst which being Sacke's Buildings, Lincoln Mansions, Ritz Hotel, Christ Scientist Church, and Greek Orthodox Church, Johannesburg. The African Building, Pretoria. St. Andrew's Buildings, Bombay Bazaar Buildings, Wyham Flats and "Beachhurst," Durban. The Dutch Reformed Churches in Jeppe (Johannesburg), Laingsburg, Barkly East, Hanover, Thaba 'Nchu, Riversdale. The Langlaagte Orphanage, etc. Add., Sackes Buildings, cor. Commissioner and Joubert Streets, Johannesburg. Private Add., Linksfield Ridge, Johannesburg.


Donaldson, K. 1927. South African Who's Who (Social & Business) 1927-28; Cape Times Ltd, Cape Town: p: 163.

[Submitted by William MARTINSON]

(See also Wikipedia)

All truncated references not cited and linked below are those of Joanna Walker's original text and cited in full in the 'Bibliography' entry of the Lexicon.

Books with reference to KALLENBACH, Hermann

Oxley, John. 1992. Places of Worship in South Africa. Halfway House: Southern Book Publishers. pp 136

Chapters in books with reference to KALLENBACH, Hermann

Holm, Dieter. Kerkplaats and Capitalists: The First Architects in Context: in Fisher, RC, Le Roux, SW and Maré, E (Eds). 1998. Architecture of the Transvaal: pp 69