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Loreto Convent
Sea Point, Cape Town, Western Cape

Hugh Alexander McQUEEN: Architect

Date:1933
Type:Convent
Status:Demolished 1980s

 


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Coordinates:
33°55'15.08" S 18°22'58.55" E Alt: 49m

(AB&E Sep 1932:18 tend; AB&E Sep 1933:8, 23, 25, 26 ill; SAAR Mar 1935:68)

Gained the Cape Provincial Institute's Bronze Award for Building of the Year in 1934.

Cumming-George 1934

THE Loreto Convent at Sea Point is a particularly good example of Italian Renaissance style in architecture, in the Florentine tradition.

The Italian style, with its characteristics of open arcading, small window openings and large unbroken wall surfaces seems peculiarly suitable for adoption in this country ; and considering that it is one of the most beautiful and grandest of all the architectural styles, it is surprising that it is not more widely known and appreciated.

Executed in face brickwork with stone facings, the main elevation to Cassell Road forms an imposing composition 160 feet (48,8 m) long and over feet 50 high (15,2 m) at its highest point.

The entrance porch on the ground floor displays some excellent stone carving, and is flanked on either side with circular-headed and pedimented windows alternating with delicately detailed stone niches. Above these comes a small string course, forming the sill mould to the first floor windows. These are of the " arcade " type, each window being formed by two semi-circularheaded openings with a twisted column forming a central mullion. A bold stone cornice directly above these asserts the horizontality of the building, whilst behind this rises the tile roof in which a row of small dormers indicates an attic storey.

The elevation is one of simplicity and refinement, with a perfection Of proportion all too seldom seen in modern times.

The garden elevation which overlooks the tennis courts is restful and dignified with its arcade of terrazzo columns and reiterated arches, in the manner Of Palladio, while the low superimposed loggia serves as a sleeping porch for the first floor cubicles. This elevation displays a wealth of beautiful detail in the carved capitals, closseret blocks and interlacing archivolt, the medallions over the centre columns and the fanciful double consoles surmounting the columns on the upper storey. Also a massive carved teak belfry in which is housed a twelfth-century bell.

The planning is simple and direct. The fall in the ground allows of a basement in the north end in which there are changing and recreation rooms and lavatories. The ground floor consists of a large and lofty panelled assembly hall which can be sub-divided into classrooms with folding panels ; living rooms, and cloisters. On the first floor are situated the Chapel and Sacristy, the remainder being divided into twenty-one cubicles with the necessary lavatory accommodation.

Amongst much fine interior work can be mentioned the Chapel with its Gothic panelling and massive oak pews and enriched plaster cornice. The staircase in green terrazzo with its simple wrought iron work. And the decoration of the cubicles, each in a different pastel shade with furniture to match.

Taking into consideration the fact that the design had to incorporate an existing edifice which it was considered inadvisable to demolish, the whole building is a united and beautiful conception. This building received the Bronze Medal presented by the " Cape Argus " for the current year.

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 69-70
Greig, Doreen. 1971. A Guide to Architecture in South Africa. Cape Town: Howard Timmins. pg 219