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Manners Mansions
Johannesburg, Gauteng

Frederick WILLIAMSON: Design Architect

Type:Flats with shops to street
Street:Jeppe St

(Van der Waal 1987: 211 : 1937-9). PEARSE's obituary for Williamson lists this work as being among the most important buildings in Johannesburg.

Manners Mansions is a massive fourteen-storey building, designed by Anstey's architects, EMLEY & WILLIAMSON, but in a substantially different style. It ignores, in a quintessentially Johannesburg manner, any attempt at architectural compatibility with its Anstey's neighbour at an important intersection. One can imagine how this opportunity would have been handled in a great age of town building but this has little relevance to the Johannesburg situation. Anstey's is a skyscraper with basically cubic setbacks; Manners Mansions is a building with rounded Mendelsohnian forms and a very pronounced axial symmetry concentrated on a main tower splayed to the corner. Both buildings are set back from lower-level podiums (which respond to each other with rounded corners). It is these setbacks that open up the view of the sky in an extraordinary manner.

At the pavement level on the Manners Mansions corner is Smokers' Corner, the rounded, island corner-shop that was the venue for generations of cigarette-and pipe-smokers. When Manners Mansions was in its pristine state, the main entrance foyer to the building contained important murals by Alfred Palmer, depicting the mine-dump industrial landscape of the Witwatersrand.

[CHIPKIN, CLIVE M. 1993. Johannesburg Style Architecture & Society. Cape Town: David Philip Publishers (Pty) Ltd. p. 149.]

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.