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Author:Fisher, Roger & Clarke, Nicholas
Title:Architectural Guide : South Africa
Publisher:DOM Publishers

This guide is a celebration of the works of professional architects in three South African metropolitan centres, namely Cape Town, Durban and the Johannesburg/Pretoria Axis. The content ranges from the early years of European settlement, where architects were trained by the military schools of engineering, through the period of apprenticeship either to a recognised practicing architect or in public works, to the twentieth century and beyond, where architects were regulated as professionals by legislation, as was their education. The projects selected are all secular, being either in the public domain or eye, and therefore readily accessible. This guide is structured along main themes, each historically located. Each episode or project type featured is highlighted by a representative from each metropolitan centre, each being discussed in broader detail alongside similar contemporaneous local examples. In total the guide features over a hundred-and-fifty projects with all salient information as to their dates of construction, designers and locality (by way of QR codes).

Philipp Meuser (left) of DOM Publishers, Germany, and Prof Roger FISHER (right) co-founder of this website at the launch of the book on 04 August 2014 at the UIA World Congress at the ICC in Durban.
Photographer: William MARTINSON

Read reviews:
Maria Fernanda Derntl South Africa : with a guidebook at hand and a website on-screen
Kathy Munro on the Heritage Portal

2015: Award of Merit from GIfA.

2016: Award of Merit - South African Institute of Architecture

Award Citation

This publication provides an overview of architecture in the metropolitan areas of Cape Town, Durban, Pretoria and Johannesburg. It focuses on the built production of professional architects, and only buildings that are relatively easily accessible and that are generally in the 'public eye' have been selected.

The purpose of the publication is to inform those who are generally interested in architecture. Hopefully, professional architects will include themselves in this group as well. The publication provides brief introductions to the selected buildings and, when read and used as a guide to find, visit and reflect on these, anyone would be able to develop an increased appreciation for architecture within the chosen cities. The knowledge so gained by readers should be able to cultivate the associative meaning and history embedded in the respective built environments, which should help to increase awareness, respect and understanding of the value of what we all share.

Fisher and Clarke provide a brief and highly readable introduction to the history and traditions of the development of the architectural profession and the buildings produced by its members. This introduction is placed against the socioeconomic development and cultural, physical and climatic diversity of the country.

The sections on the different cities are ably introduced in the following sequence:

  • Cape Town: llze Wolff;
  • Durban: Nina Saunders;
  • Pretoria: Mo Phala; and
  • Johannesburg: Melinda Silverman.

Each of these authors was asked to contribute due to their recognised knowledge of the respective cities, and they have approached their contributions in distinctly personal ways. Buildings and urban spaces are open to a wide variety of interpretations; these authors, at least, do not claim theirs to be a universal and comprehensive overview. However, each has provided an interesting starting point by which the architecture of their city can be understood.

The sections on the different cities are colour-coded for easy use and reference. Each building covered in the publication can be located three-dimensionally, in its physical place, by means of scan QR codes. All buildings are further identified by relatively large photographs and short descriptions.

Reading the book is quite a pleasure. Some of the contributions are fairly quirky, tongue-in-cheek even, but never less than professional. It is clearly obvious that every effort has been made to verify facts and information so as to provide the reader with reliable information.

The publication joins a very small number of others of this type on South African architecture. It is the latest in this much-neglected group and is also the first to be published as part of an international series. This is a reflection of our changed relationship with the outside world, as well as attesting to the fact that the architecture produced in this country is of interest to a similar audience overseas.

These publications are statements of what a community holds important. Invariably, they date and assume a position in history - if they are good. This particular one has all the hallmarks to be taken up into history as a valuable contribution.

View the book online

Chapters/Entries in this book


Marg, Volkwin6
An architectural guide to the three South African metros

Clarke, Nicholas & Fisher, Roger8
A brief guide to the metropoles

Clarke, Nicholas & Fisher, Roger9
Cape Town : Cape of Storms

Fisher, Roger16
My Cape Town

Wolff, Ilze18
Durban : surf, sun and sand

Fisher, Roger48
My Durban

Saunders, Nina50
Pretoria : the jacaranda city

Clarke, Nicholas84
My Pretoria

Phala, Mo86
Johannesburg : city of gold

Clarke, Nicholas114
My Johannesburg

Silverman, Melinda116


Buildings linked to this book

Addington Children's Hospital - KZN Children's Hospital, 1931, Addington, Durban, KwaZulu-Natal. pp 58
Cape Provincial Administration Headquarters, 1984, Cape Town, Western Cape. pp 35 ill
Castle of Good Hope, 1666, Central, Cape Town, Western Cape. pp 10
Court House - now Local History Museum, 1865, Durban, KwaZulu-Natal. pp 57
Government Printing Works, 1896 : 1932, Tshwane (Pretoria), Gauteng. pp 95
Houses of Parliament, 1879-1885, Cape Town, Western Cape. pp 25
Iziko Museum - Slave Lodge - Supreme Court, 1680 : 1807-1814 : 1926 : 1961-1964, Central, Cape Town, Western Cape. pp 24-25, 29
Land and Agricultural Bank of South Africa, 1938, Cape Town, Western Cape. pp 27
Ocean Terminal, 1962, Durban, KwaZulu-Natal. pp 62
Prestwich Memorial, 2001, Cape Town, Western Cape. pp 39
Prince's Theatre, 1926, Durban, KwaZulu-Natal. pp 59
SA Mutual Life Assurance Society Building - Mutual Heights, 1934-1936 : 2004-2005, Cape Town, Western Cape. pp 28-29
SANTAM - SANLAM Building - Waalburg, 1930, Central, Cape Town, Western Cape. pp 29
Union Buildings, 1909-1913, Tshwane (Pretoria), Gauteng. pp 12
University of Natal, Womens' Hall of Residence - John Bews, 1966-1968, Durban, KwaZulu-Natal. pp 64-65 ill
University of Natal, Womens' Hall of Residence - Mabel Palmer, 1966-1968, Durban, KwaZulu-Natal. pp 65

People or firms linked to this book

BAKER, Sir Herbert. pp 11, 12
BARNETT, Jack Judah. pp 14, 36, 37
BERNSTEIN, Lionel 'Rusty'. pp 14
ELSWORTH, Lancelot Andrew. pp 26
HAWKE and McKINLAY. pp 26
LE CORBUSIER, Charles-Édouard Jeanneret-Gris. pp 12, 34, 64
LIPMAN, Alan Robert. pp 14
LOUW, Wynand Hendrik. pp 29
LUTYENS, Edwin Landseer. pp 26
MARSHALL, Arthur James. pp 26
MARTIENSSEN, Rex Distin. pp 12
MOERDYK, Gerard Leendert Pieter. pp 29
PEARSE, Geoffrey Eastcott. pp 12
SNAPE, Alfred Ernest. pp 26
THIBAULT, Louis Michel. pp 10
WALGATE, Charles Percival. pp 26