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LE SUEUR, Geoffrey Eustace

Born: 1902 11 06
Died: 1990

Architect

SACA:
Reg No: 176
Year registered: 1927


List of Projects

ARIBA 1927

Geoffrey Le Sueur was born in Wynberg in the Cape and educated at the Diocesan College in Rondebosch, Cape Town. He first wanted to be an electrical engineer and was apprenticed to Cawston in Cape Town for two years before he left, turning to architecture. He was articled to REID & DELBRIDGE in Cape Town in 1919 and attended classes at the Michaelis School. He and CHN MERRIFIELD were the only two out of six students to pass the full RIBA examination, the first to do so at Cape Town. Le Sueur had become a probationer, RIBA, in 1923 and a student, RIBA, in 1926. The final examination took place in 1926. In January 1924 he was appointed chief assistant architect in the office of REID, DELBRIDGE & FALLON. In January 1929 Le Sueur moved to Durban, at the suggestion of his friend H VAN DER RIET who had already gone there to work for AAR McKINLAY. Le Sueur also joined McKinlay and was appointed chief assistant. He soon realised that, so intense was his work in this office he had 'not even seen the beach' (Le Sueur 1989). McKinlay invited Le Sueur to enter into partnership but no further arrangements for such a partnership were made and in 1929 Le Sueur quit the office and opened independent practice in Durban. He built up his architectural ideas on design from the South African styles particularly that of the Cape. He had a photographic memory, gave service and was a quick worker, 'no mess, no reduced fees' (Le Sueur 1989) and this built up his practice. On his own admission he was also a hard worker. In 1931 he was placed second in the competition for the Colonial Mutual Life Assurance Co Building in Durban. His first known work is an apartment block, Athlone Mansions, in Musgrave Rd (1930), after which he undertook a number of houses, commercial buildings and hotels in the city. In 1936 he was awarded the NPIA Medal for his design of the clubhouse for the Royal Durban Golf Club (1935) and in the same year came second in the competition for the Johannesburg Magistrate's Courts, assisted by JC SIMPSON. They executed the drawings in a few days and the unfinished quality of the drawings was noticed by the assessor. He was placed in the competition for the Prime Minister's House in Pretoria (Libertas) in 1935, with plans again executed at the last minute. He was invited to design the new Post Office for Cape Town but the Government decided that this had to be done departmentally. Soon afterwards he was given the job of designing the Customs House, Durban. In 1947 he was asked to design a new Railway Station for Durban. Soon after he began the design, the station was resited. A change of government (National Party) led to the abandonment of the project. He designed the Magistrate's Court in Stanger St (1948) which had to conform to the new apartheid regulations, adding to the cost of the work. The firm flourished and GEOFFREY LE SUEUR & PARTNERS was for a number of years among the largest architectural practices in Natal. In 1945, Le Sueur, a pioneer resident in Westville, moved back into town, where he moved into a building bought before the war from the MacKeurtans, 748 Musgrave Rd (designed by Wallace PATON). Among his postwar works were the South British Insurance Building, Barclays Bank with MOFFAT & HIRST, Eagle Buildings, Metal Box factory at Mobeni, the Oswald Pirow Building, Yarningdale Flats on Marine Parade, Bencorrum Hotel on the Beach Front, (now Port Natal High School) in Bartle Rd and the Science Block, Universty of Natal, Durban.

Le Sueur played a significant role in the NPIA being a member of Council 1932-1936, Vice-President in 1933 and President in 1934. In 1980 he established a prize for design at the Natal School of Architecture, the Geoffrey Le Sueur Travel Scholarship.

(ARIBA nom papers (1927) 4125; AB&E Nov 1927:1; Arch SA Aug 1981:10; Brown 1969; Hillebrand 1986; Le Sueur 1989; NPIA Jnl 3, 1988; NWW 1933; RIBA Jnl 15 Oct 1927:703)

Publ: Some early churches at the Cape, SAAR Jun 1928:33-7

Submitted and entry for the Competition for the new Prime Minister's Residence - Placed Third.

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