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Stellenbosch Boys' High School - Paul Roos Gimnasium
Stellenbosch, Western Cape

Robert MacBeth ROBERTSON: Architect
Folkert Wilko HESSE: Architect



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33°56'31.43" S 18°51'40.77" E Alt: 109m

Won in competition.

(NM) (SAWW 1910; Die Burger 10.1.1985)

Stellenbosch Boys High School holds many stories in its foundations dating all the way back to 1866. Rev. J.H Neethling of the Stellenbosch Dutch Reformed Church had begun the journey of erecting an all-boys gymnasium, or more commonly known today as a Latin school. In 1879 the Gymnasium and College diverge into separate buildings where the College had then acquired the name “Stellenbosch College”. It was later renamed ‘Victoria College’ in 1887 but ultimately became the ‘University of Stellenbosch’ in 1918.

The Japie Krige Hall on the campus of Paul Roos Gymnasium has an astounding presence in its landscape where the building becomes monumental in its approach whilst still blending into the picturesque setting of the Western Cape. The symmetrical structure becomes the centre focus as the surrounding gardens frame the building as the viewer is confronted by the façade. The form of the tall structure pays homage to the classical architectural order whilst being stretched upwards creating steeper angles of the pediment, thus creating a majestic feel to the façade. The proportional temple like form embodies the characteristics of Palladian Architecture with its Ionic columns, heavy cornices, large architrave, and pediment. The dual staircases on the sides of the entrance are mathematically proportioned where between them frames the entrance on a plinth. On the pediment we see the school’s emblem proudly entrenched through a vibrantly painted relief sculpture of the crest. One could even describe the windows on the side of the building as an abstracted modern version of the traditional Venetian style window.

The off-white painted building also elegantly resembles the Greek Revival style as the details on the building are bold yet unpretentious. The heavy cornices and the unadorned frieze - where the only ornamentation lies in the school’s emblem - are simple yet effective in giving the building a strong presence. The sophisticated elevated Ionic columns’ capitals and mouldings symbolise the spiral scroll thus encapsulating the idea of the esteemed academia of Stellenbosch Boys High School.

Beyond the façade, the sides of the building employ an arcade portico that entice the public into the intimate spaces of the building. Overall, the Paul Roos Gymnasium leaves one impressed by the overall magnitude and unique experience of the structure which is echoed in the values of the school today.

(Chloe Fox-Martin, August 2021)

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.

Books that reference Stellenbosch Boys' High School - Paul Roos Gimnasium

Radford, D. 1979. The architecture of the Western Cape, 1838-1901. A study of the impact of Victorian aesthetics and technology on South African architecture. Johannesburg: Unpublished Ph.D thesis. Dept of Arch. University of the Witwatersrand. pg 130