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University of Pretoria, Chemistry Block
Pretoria, Gauteng

MOERDYK and WATSON: Architect

Date:1943 : 1956 : 1958
Type:University
Status:Extant

 


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Coordinates:
25°45'16.24" S 28°13'51.06" E Alt: 1380m

This modern-style face brick structure with touches of Dutch Brick Modernism was built in the middle of the Second World War in 1943 when the Old Chemistry building became too small for the expanding number of students due to the newly established Faculty of Medicine. Gerhard Moerdyk and H Watson were responsible for the design. The detailed reliefs on the front of the building portray elements of chemistry. In 1956 the east wing was added and two years later a third floor was completed. The Department of Chemistry occupies the entire building.

"This building is found in the University of Pretoria on the Main Campus, built in 1943 and designed by Gerhard Moerdyk and H Watson. It was constructed in 1943, during World War 2, when the Old Chemistry building became too small to accommodate to the increasing number of chemistry students owing to the newly established Faculty of Medicine

The structure is a 3-storey modern-style face brick structure with hints of Dutch brick Modernism. The architects were very particular with the design of the building, this can be seen through elements such as the detailed reliefs on the front of the building which portrays elements of chemistry. Before entering the building through the main entrance, you are introduced to "steen" stone blocks depicting M.C. Botha and H.J van der Byl on the left and right walls respectively, as they were principals of the University of Pretoria between 1942-1947. Once you enter the main door, it is seen that the building is designed in a symmetrical manner using a double staircase in the centre with two identical hallways spanning to the left and right (one leading to an elevator) as well as an extending path leading to a third hallway that spans after the staircase that leads to another set of stairs on either side. All the hallways have a half brick face, half plastered design that links with the modernist era it was designed in.

The building accommodates students as well as lecturers and workers in the chemistry department. It contains offices, chemistry labs and lecture halls found on the different levels. Towards the back there is an entrance/exit that acts as a shorter route to other lecture halls in other buildings that the students may attend. In 1956, the east wing was added and two years later a third floor was completed. The Department of Chemistry occupies the entire building." Neo Mabasa, July 2021

These notes were last edited on 2021 07 09