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Nederduitse Gereformeerde Kerk Irene
Johannesburg, Gauteng

Harold Nixon PORTER: Architect

Date:1932
Type:Nederduitse Gereformeerde Kerk - Church
Status:Demolished
Street:88 Plein Street

Cumming-George 1934

THE church has been erected beside the old Irene Hall in Plein Street, at a cost of £10,000 excluding the ground.

The building is of hard stock brick, rendered in tinted plaster, golden-brown facing bricks being used for dadoes, window surrounds and cornices.

The main body of the church, thirty feet high (9 metre), is pierced by tall slender arched windows, glazed with cathedral glass in small leaded panes. Steel trusses carry the flat boarded roof, which is hidden by a parapet, and heavy brick Romanesque cornice.

A square bell-tower, one hundred feet high (30.5 metre), and twenty wide (6 metre), dominates the building and binds the various masses together. Its vertical lines culminate in an arcaded belfry, roofed with Roman tiles.

The main problem confronting the architect in the planning was the elimination from the church of the Plein St. traffic noises. This has been successfully solved by the introduction of a fountain court, and double vestibules between the church and the street. From the inner vestibule, wide corridors paved with teak and camphor wood, and lighted from clerestory windows, embrace the auditorium, and afford access to the Sunday School, Minister's Room, Consistory, and the various lavatories.

The auditorium, as in most of the later Dutch Reformed Churches, is semi-circular in plan, the floor sloping from all directions to the focal group, consisting of pulpit, choir, and organ. A five-foot (1.5 metre) brick dado carries in its length the pierced terra-cotta ventilation grilles. Above, the acoustically-shaped board ceiling is suspended from steel roof trusses, its ribs curving together and meeting in a moulded boss over the central arch of the organ recess. Polished green Byzantine columns, their capitals enriched with South African floral decoration, support the three arches of the organ recess. Under the central arch stands the moulded teak pulpit, with its little flight of steps, and wide lectern hung with a blue and silver pulpit-cloth.

Eight tall electric windows, fourteen feet high (4.2 metre), placed in the angles of the wall, together with a concealed light behind a glazed panel in the ceiling, illuminate the church at night.

A gallery, approached by two staircases from the inner vestibule, occupies the upper portion of the auditorium, and from it access is gained to the ringing-chamber in the tower by a spiral concrete stair. The belfry itself is reached by means of an iron cat-ladder.

Throughout the design, practical utility has been successfully combined with dignity, and the building is a notable addition to the long list of Dutch Reformed Churches in South Africa.

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In 1934 it was decided to build flats on either side of the church, this was to have an added income as well as act as buffer to the noise of traffic. They were also designed by HN PORTER.

See the Irene-Zaal (Church Hall).

See also The Heritage Portal for information and photographs of the replacement church.

(SAB Apr 1932:37 tend)

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

Cumming-George, L. 1934. Architecture in South Africa - Volume Two. Cape Town: The Speciality Press of S.A. Ltd.. pg 29-30
van der Waal, Gerhard-Mark. 1987. From Mining Camp to Metropolis - The buildings of Johannesburg 1886-1940. Pretoria: Human Sciences Research Council. pg 195-196
Keath, Michael The Baker School: A Continuing Tradition 1902-1940: in Fisher, RC, Le Roux, SW and Maré, E (Eds). 1998. Architecture of the Transvaal: pp 85