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University of Pretoria, Merensky Library
Hillcrest, Pretoria, Gauteng

Gerard Leendert Pieter MOERDYK: Architect

Date:1933
Client:University of Pretoria
Type:Library
Style:Boere Deco
Status:Extant

 


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Coordinates:
25°45'17.05" S 28°13'47.99" E Alt: 1370m

(SAB Aug 1937; PWSA Sep 1939:16-18 ill; Greig 1971:202)

Inaugurated for Centenary of the Great Trek 1938

Now used as a museum.

In 1933 it was decided by the University to construct a separate building for the library which was then still located in the Old Arts building. With a contribution of £10 000 from mining geologist Dr Hans Merensky, construction started in 1937. General Jan Smuts laid the cornerstone on 11 October 1937 and on 15 April 1938 the building was officially opened.

'... rises from a prominently rusticated stone base which thickens towards the ground - a mannerism which was typical of his churches and of the Voortrekker Monument. It supports an anaemic stone-faced [in fact a constituted stone of ciment fondue] superstructure ...

This building epitomises a popular pre-war idea, namely that ''modern architecture'' meant that buildings were to be constructed the same way as before but could be brought up to date by discarding classical and gothic decoration. Then one changed the shape of windows and glazing patterns, rounded off some corners, gave the building a frieze of meaningless Stockholm decorations and called it modern architecture' (Greig, 1971: 202)

More information

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


Writings about this entry

Greig, Doreen. 1971. A Guide to Architecture in South Africa. Cape Town: Howard Timmins. pg 202
Fisher, Roger C The Third Vernacular: Pretoria Regionalism — Aspects of an Emergence: in Fisher, RC, Le Roux, SW and Maré, E (Eds). 1998. Architecture of the Transvaal: pp 146 ill 6.18