View Large Images

Pretoria School of Architecture



The first place of transferring of architectural skills in Pretoria was the DEPARTEMENT PUBLIEKE WERKEN - ZUID-AFRIKAANSCHE REPUBLIEK under the directorship of WIERDA.

The first recorded teacher in the architectural field was Jan Hendrik HOLLENBACH (1852-1914). He was amongst the first to join of the newly established Departement Publieke Werken and migrated to the ZAR in 1889. He was an architect and lecturer of descriptive geometry at the Staatsgimnasium [State Gymnasium], recorded in Longland's Directory of 1899 as Professor of Draughting at the State Model School in his private listing and of the Mining School in the State Gymnasium.

Pretoria fell to the British in 1901 and they immediately took over the affairs of Public Works, initially under the ROYAL ENGINEERS, but with the signing of the peace in 1902, transferred to civilian management. As its predecessor, it served to train young architects, the most famous of these being Gordon LEITH and Gerard MOERDYK. The arrangements between Herbert Baker, as private practitioner, and the Department as the project management team, both for the Pretoria Station (1908) and later Union Buildings (1910-1914) created offices where young prospective architects might hone their skills.


The architect, William Henry GIBSON, while employed with the PWD also lectured (1911) in design at the Transvaal University College in Pretoria.

In 1921 Gordon Thomas Ellis returned from the United Kingdom to join COWIN and POWERS in partnership, taking charge of the Pretoria office. He also instructed evening classes at the Pretoria Technical College; the classes were the forerunners of the School of Architecture at the University of Pretoria.

Charles Cunnold DEUCHAR (1883-1939) was born in Scotland. On Union in 1910 he transferred fromPUBLIC WORKS DEPARTMENT of the ORANGE RIVER COLONY to the DEPARTMENT OF PUBLIC WORKS in Pretoria. By 1923 Deuchar was lecturing in Design at the architectural classes in Pretoria. Deuchar was transferred to the SOUTH AFRICAN RAILWAYS AND HARBOURS Administration in 1929 as chief architect, Johannesburg, a post he held until his death in Johannesburg.

Joseph LOCKWOOD HALL, then in the employ of the PUBLIC WORKS DEPARTMENT, lectured in construction in about 1924 at classes in architecture held in Pretoria.

Thomas Gordon ELLIS (1887-1940) had returned from London to South Africa in 1921 to join Cowin & Powers in and taking charge of the Pretoria office. He also instructed evening classes at the Pretoria Technical College. These classes were the forerunners of the School of Architecture at the University of Pretoria.

A colourful character is Alexander Fraser LAWRIE. While working in Kuala Lumpur, Malaya, on a three-year contract he received the offer of a three-year contract to return to Pretoria to supervise the building of the Pretoria Technical College for Gordon LEITH who had won the competition for this building in 1926. Lawrie returned to South Africa in 1927 and took charge of the project. On completion of the job, he was appointed a part-time lecturer in architecture with WG McINTOSH.

William Gordon McINTOSH (1904-1983), born in Glasgow, was the son of the architect FG McINTOSH. In about 1929 McIntosh's association with the University of Pretoria began. He became a part-time lecturer in Engineering at the Transvaal University College, Pretoria. He was closely involved with the development of the College through to its acquiring University status and in particular with the development and organisation of the School of Architecture in Pretoria. He is remembered in the Department of Architecture, University of Pretoria for the bequest of his architectural archive, containing many of the original drawings of the zerohour exhibition, for his instituting of the Sheilagh Kirtley McIntosh Prize in memory of his wife, still awarded to the highest achieving graduate in the Department. His memorial window is located in the Boukunde Building, designed by Stephanie FASSLER. He designed the entrance gate pylons on University Road edge of the main campus of the University of Pretoria (now defunct).

The Pretoria School of Architecture 1943 -

It had been decided by the Secretary of Education, Dr. S. F. N. GIE, that the education of architects and quantity surveyors was to be a function of universities (and not the technical colleges). The two courses were moved to the TUK with the understanding that training would take place in collaboration with the University of the Witwatersrand (Wits). Teaching in architecture and quantity surveying commenced at the Transvaal University College (TUK) located in Pretoria, with the appointment, on 18 April 1929, of H. BELL-JOHN as head of the department and part-time professor. Transvaalse Universiteitskollege, had been founded on 11 February 1908, initially subjugated under the University of the Cape of Good Hope. In 1918 TUC acquired greater autonomy when it was incorporated into a Federal University better known as the University of South Africa (UNISA). The University of Pretoria came into being on 10 October 1930. From the end of 1931 diplomas and degrees in quantity surveying were awarded by the University of Pretoria and those in architecture by Wits. The Council of the University of Pretoria in 1940, expressed the wish to establish its own chair in architecture but it was decided to honour the agreement with Wits until the end of 1942. The association with Wits was terminated on 28 May 1942 and it was decided that Pretoria University would henceforth confer diplomas and degrees in architecture. In the beginning of 1943 the Department of Architecture and Quantity Surveying became an independent department in the Faculty of Mathematics and Science. Adriaan Louw MEIRING was appointed the first professor and head of the Department.

[See 1943-1953 for a history of the first ten years].

Subsequent Heads of Department have been:
Prof Alewyn BURGER
Prof Dieter HOLM 1986-1996
Prof Schalk LE ROUX 1996-2004
Prof Roger FISHER (Acting Head of Department) 2004-2005
Prof ‘Ora JOUBERT 2005-2008
Prof Karel BAKKER 2009-

The Department of Architecture in 1993 celebrated its Golden Jubilee. Three events marked this occasion. The Tukkies student body, GAP (Group Architecture Students Pretoria) hosted the annual Architectural Students' Congress on the campus, with the theme 'Place making in Africa'. Karel BAKKER curated an Alumni Exhibition at the Pretoria Art Museum, featuring, amongst others the works of the first graduates such as Jan VAN WIJK and Johann DE RIDDER, and younger contemporaries Karel JOOSTE and Gawie FAGAN. Roger FISHER and Schalk LE ROUX edited a Festschrift 'The Architecture of the Transvaal', which was published by UNISA in 1998. An issue of the professional magazine Architecture SA was also devoted to the School, in which erstwhile lecturer, Mr Carl (Gus) GERNEKE reflected on former teaching personalities such as Robert COLE BOWEN and Basil SOUTH.

The Department of Architecture had not been isolated from the winds of change that swept the country in the nineties. Directly after the establishment of a first full South African democracy a representative of the Department, Roger FISHER, was granted observer status at the 14th General Assembly of the Commonwealth Association of Architects (CAA) held in Mauritius in April of 1994. While in progress news came through of South Africa's re-admission to the Commonwealth and arrangements were immediately made for international accreditation of the professional degree course in Architecture. A joint visit of the South African Council of Architects (SACA) and CAA was arranged for September of that year and so the Pretoria School of Architecture was the first school in South Africa under the new political dispensation to achieve international recognition, and in terms of agreement with negotiated by SACA with the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA), also accredited by RIBA in 1995. A joint validation visit occurs every five years, the accreditation thus confirmed in 1999 and thereafter to be reviewed every four years.

The programme of teaching for the Bachelor of Interior Design (BInt) was recognized by Design South Africa and internationally by the International Federation of Interior Architects and Designers. The Board of Control of Landscape Architects (South Africa) (BOCLA) had accredited the BL course as the only qualifying course for landscape architects in South Africa.

In the meanwhile the University proceeded with internal changes and restructuring. In 1997 the Departments of Architecture and Landscape Architecture were re-integrated, after some twenty-five years of operating independently, under Prof Schalk le Roux, newly appointed to the Chair. Professor Dieter HOLM, previously Head, was appointed director of the portfolio of Post Graduate Studies and Research, newly established within the Division for Environmental Design and Management. These changes lent opportunity for a re-evaluation of curriculum structures and content. This was done both in terms of professional relevance as well as the requirements of the South African Qualification Authority (SAQA). The structure in terms of an outcomes based education, with multiple entry and exit levels within curriculum structures formed part of the re-appraisal. It was decided to have the course structure match the three-plus-two year structure of all other schools of architecture at other universities in the country, as well as have the School of Landscape Architecture within a similar structure. This offered opportunity for the development of core course content which could be shared by the two programmes. The new professional degree courses namely, Baccalaureus Scientiae in Architecture [BSc (Arch)] and Baccalaureus Scientiae in Landscape Architecture [BSc (Larch)] came into operation 1999.

The same year saw the School of the Built Environment, where the Department resorts, established within the newly constituted Faculty of Engineering, Built Environment and Information Technology. At the same time the programme in Interior Design was relocated to the Department. The entire process of curriculum restructuring was once more set in motion. It became clear that the core curriculum should be strengthened, that each programme be distinguished by a specific stream of a discipline-related subject. It was thus possible to develop the professional programmes as post-graduate courses, and develop a broad range of post graduate courses in the subjects taught within the Department. This was introduced in 2002, synchronous with the awarding of degrees in the first of the two degree system for the teaching of professionals within architecture, landscape architecture and interior design.

The research focus of the Department derives from the traditions brought by the teaching of the different programmes, namely ecological assessment, environmental management and conservation, and the concerns of climate, energy efficiency and appropriate and sustainable technologies. Professor Dieter Holm was first to be awarded a Doctorate in Architecture by the University in 1985, the year he was appointed to the Chair in Architecture. As Head of Department he made it his task to raise the post-graduate qualifications as well as the research profile of the staff in the Department. Under his mentorship the number of lecturing staff to receive doctorates has risen to four. Daniel IRURAH in 1997 was the first black African to have a Doctorate in Architecture conferred by the University of Pretoria . Professor Michael MURPHY, visiting Professor in Landscape Architecture from Texas A and M, was awarded his Doctorate in 1999. The first honorary doctorate in Architecture to be awarded by the University was conferred on Amancio (Pancho) GUEDES in 1998. In 2000 it was agreed to confer the first honorary doctorate to be presented by the University on the internationally renowned ecologist and designer, Professor Ian McHARG, who unfortunately passed away before the degree could be conferred.

Important contract research project with which the Department had been associated was instigated by Prof Willem VAN RIET, the ENPAT (Environmental Potential Atlas of South Africa) project, which since 1997 haD been managed by Gwen BREEDLOVE of the Department. This was a multi-disciplinary undertaking and evolved into a broad database and planning, design and decision making tool, being extended by adding cultural and heritage features.

The Department had in this time taken leave of a number of long-serving members of staff. Prof Willem VAN RIET retired as Head of the Department of Landscape Architecture in 1996, as well as Mr Anton DU TOIT, after more than twenty-five years of sevice in the Department of Architecture. Mr Charles [Swannie] SWANEPOEL, after more than forty years association with teaching, retired in 1997. Two of the lecturing staff, Professors Hans WEGELIN and Johan (Jo) KEMP having retired from practice, the former devoted time to the broadening of the available study material in Construction while Prof Kemp engaged in research with conservation as community concern. Younger and newly appointed members of staff directed their post-graduate studies at the development of subject areas within the curriculum, for example Gift SETSHEDI in Interior Design, Frans VAN WYK in Plant Sciences, Finzi SAIDI in teaching at first year level, Nico BOTES in Material Studies, and Alta VAN STAADEN [STEENKAMP] in Theory of the Environment.

Notable lecturers have been:
Norman EATON
Carl (Gus) GERNEKE
Johannes (Joe) KEMP

See also Timeline: Department of Architecture, University of Pretoria by Nico BOTES.

Spring Graduation Ceremony 2015

At the Spring Graduation Ceremony 2015 the Pretoria School of Architecture awarded four Philosophiae Doctor (Doctor of Philosophy) degrees:
BREED, Christina Alida; Supervisor Prof RC FISHER
COMBRINCK, Carin; Supervisor Prof PT VOSLOO
JORDAAN, June; Supervisor Dr AAJ BARKER
KÖNIGK, Raymund; Supervisor Prof KA BAKKER, Co-supervisor Prof RC FISHER.

Visit the School's Facebook page.