During World War II, interest in indigenous South African architecture deepened, leading to studies that challenged modernism and influenced architectural design. Histories of Exchange: Indigenous South Africa in the South African Architectural Record and the Architectural Review remaps the tension between modern and indigenous cultures during the 1940s and 1950s, examining the diaspora of ideas between South Africa and Britain and revealing a new genealogy of postwar architecture. Elisa Dainese addresses indigenous South African architecture as it was seen in the postwar years from the perspectives of two architectural magazines. In doing so, she provides a new theoretical framework that probes the role of architectural journals, considering them as alternative spaces where contact took place among European and African cultures.

In the middle of the twentieth century, the Architectural Review and the South African Architectural Record, the main architectural magazines in Britain and South Africa, respectively, published essays dedicated to Sotho homesteads of the Transvaal, Xhosa huts, and Pedi landscape architecture.1 These periodicals also surveyed Zulu grass buildings and kraals (native villages), Westernized villages inhabited by Fingo people, and Ndebele murals painted by indigenous women (Figure 1). Through the magazines, knowledge traveled between South Africa and Europe in complex trajectories that crossed physical, political, and linguistic boundaries. As a result, interest in indigenous South African architecture deepened in both Britain and South Africa, influencing architectural design in South Africa. Modern and traditional architectural cultures did more than simply meet in this diaspora of ideas, however; they informed each other, albeit in highly asymmetrical ways.

Figure 1

Indigenous hut outside Johannesburg (Betty Spence, “Native Architecture,” South African Architectural Record 25, no. 11 [Nov. 1940], 391).

Figure 1

Indigenous hut outside Johannesburg (Betty Spence, “Native Architecture,” South African Architectural Record 25, no. 11 [Nov. 1940], 391).

To illuminate a new genealogy of postwar architecture, this article maps the tension between modern and indigenous cultures in the movement of ideas between South Africa and Britain before and immediately after the definitive establishment of the apartheid system in 1948. I examine the legacy of colonization in South Africa in terms of the depiction of indigenous South African architecture in these two architectural magazines. In this investigation, I take into account the complicity of Western architecture and imperialism in constructing and framing South African and British ideologies. Further, I consider the appropriation of borrowed architectural models in the work of architect Norman Eaton in Pretoria, the proposals of architect Paul Connell for native housing, and the vibrant reinvention of murals painted by Ndebele women in the Transvaal region. Reflecting the complex relationship between South African traditions and Western architectural discipline, the magazines reveal the Eurocentric perception of African architecture and the idealized and romantic appreciation of indigenous models during this period.

The South African Architectural Record and the Vernacular

The South African Architectural Record was one of the most influential architectural journals in the South African Union. After 1925, it replaced Building, a quarterly publication founded in 1916 as the official journal of the Association of Transvaal Architects.2 The Record published articles on major buildings and developments in the country, with a particular emphasis on modern architecture.3 Interest in what was called the African vernacular—traditional indigenous buildings and settlements erected in the countryside—exploded in 1940, when the magazine published “Native Architecture,” by Betty Spence, a student of architecture at the University of the Witwatersrand.4 Spence’s essay was the Record’s first article focused entirely on indigenous South African architecture. It included photographs and drawings by Spence that corresponded to her descriptions of villages and buildings. In the text Spence referred to different tribal architectural traditions: the “native homestead” of the Sotho living in the Transvaal region; the “low mud walls” built by the Xhosa, a large tribe that had been established in South Africa since the mid-sixteenth century; and the “semicircular” huts of the Zulus, a major clan founded in the early eighteenth century in what is today northern KwaZulu-Natal (see Figure 1).5

Spence maintained that “the indigenous architecture, that of the Native, has never been considered at all” in South Africa.6 Indeed, until that moment, South African journals had accorded very little place in their architectural schema to tribal Africa. Indigenous architecture was treated as the product of primitive cultures, and the subject was not considered worthy of recognition. The lacuna is revealing in itself, but the reasons for it merit even more attention. By criticizing the architectural establishment for neglecting indigenous architecture, Spence affirmed that South Africans were too inclined to look overseas to Europe and the Western world for inspiration. Since the beginning of the seventeenth century, European political and economic control had persisted in South Africa, to the detriment of indigenous traditions. Since the 1652 landing of Jan van Riebeeck, agent of the Dutch East India Company, the clashes between Britain and France, and the conflict between Britain and the Boers, South African urban development had been guided by colonizers.7 Even after the proclamation of the Union of South Africa in 1910, the government promoted European models of building and urbanization for developing South African architecture and cities. For example, Cape Dutch homesteads—traditional houses built in the seventeenth century by the colonizers of the Western Cape—were accepted as a fundamental part of the architectural heritage of South Africa. By contrast, Spence observed, if a building was indigenous, that fact was “enough to damn it.”8

Spence’s appreciation of tribal architecture was part of a broad interest in the vernacular among the editorial group of the South African Architectural Record, faculty and students at the University of the Witwatersrand, and other South African architects. In particular, Rex Martienssen, an editor of the Record during the 1940s, promoted indigenous architecture among the circle of modern architects in the Transvaal. Martienssen, who was born in Johannesburg in 1905 and graduated from the University of the Witwatersrand in 1930, was well known for his modern South African architecture and its esprit nouveau.9 Later a member of CIAM and president of the Transvaal Provincial Institute of South African Architects, Martienssen considered the house a “machine” and believed that was the only model capable of guiding the architectural development of the Union of South Africa. In an article written in 1929, Martienssen identified four categories connected with the machine age: “the bridge, the motor car, the airplane, and ship,” all “valuable lessons in the meaning of architecture” (Figure 2).10 Looking at the mechanistic innovations of the century and Le Corbusier’s ideas on architecture, he sought a completeness and integrity in architecture to achieve a balance among the understanding of architectural problems, the use of techniques, and the availability of material resources.11 In a 1942 article, he listed architects he considered masters, including Le Corbusier, Walter Gropius, Mies van der Rohe, Alvar Aalto, Colin Lucas, and Marcel Breuer.12

Figure 2

Johannesburg, ca. 1953 (Nikolaus Pevsner, “Johannesburg: The Development of a Contemporary Vernacular in the Transvaal,” Architectural Review 113, no. 678 [June 1953], 360; reprinted with permission of the Architectural Review).

Figure 2

Johannesburg, ca. 1953 (Nikolaus Pevsner, “Johannesburg: The Development of a Contemporary Vernacular in the Transvaal,” Architectural Review 113, no. 678 [June 1953], 360; reprinted with permission of the Architectural Review).

Martienssen’s search for modernity in architecture and his enthusiasm for South African traditions coexisted throughout his life. As a student at the University of the Witwatersrand, he was inspired by the English cottage and the British picturesque. In 1928, he went to the Cape with Geoffrey E. Pearse, a teacher at the university, to study and record old Cape Dutch homesteads.13 He traveled extensively throughout Europe and, in 1933, visited Delphi, where he had a revelation about Greek culture, experienced the shock of the Mediterranean world, and confronted ancient vernacular architecture. In 1942 Martienssen wrote: “When there were no architects available, the fishermen of the Mediterranean created beautiful and simple dwellings for themselves. The yeomen of rural England built appropriately and sturdily… . Ancient vernacular springs from a direct and fundamental grappling with the problems of living and shelter.”14 As editor of the South African Architectural Record he approached indigenous African buildings with similar fervor and enthusiasm, seeking new answers to the question of dwelling.

In her article, Spence described an analogous experience. She depicted her first trip to an indigenous kraal—a typical South African settlement surrounded by a fence of thornbush branches—14 miles outside Johannesburg. Much as Martienssen had responded to the Mediterranean vernacular, Spence was “completely fascinated by [the] charm and simplicity” of indigenous South African architecture.15 The “delightful” tribal homes that she visited genuinely surprised her, and the hut was a “gem” that thrilled her senses and enchanted her rationality.16 For Spence, indigenous architecture was an example of untouched purity, equivalent to classical culture. Building their kraal, the members of the tribe acted “like ancient Egyptians.” At a distance, the ensemble was “purely structural, purely architectural,” while a closer examination revealed walls covered with murals resembling a “Panathenaic frieze in miniature” (Figure 3).17 Such comparisons between indigenous African buildings and Egyptian and Greek architecture were central to Spence’s argument. Like Martienssen, Spence was looking at the grandeur of the classical empires of the past to find a new spirit able to guide the rapid development of South African architecture. In her view, the classical machine invoked by Martienssen in the 1920s had its counterpart outside Johannesburg in a village of huts.

Figure 3

Chief’s hut with murals resembling a “Panathenaic frieze in miniature” (Betty Spence, “Native Architecture,” South African Architectural Record 25, no. 11 [Nov. 1940], 386).

Figure 3

Chief’s hut with murals resembling a “Panathenaic frieze in miniature” (Betty Spence, “Native Architecture,” South African Architectural Record 25, no. 11 [Nov. 1940], 386).

After Spence’s article appeared, a general enthusiasm for indigenous architecture, tribal buildings, and their design emerged in Martienssen’s magazine, in South African architecture and culture, and, especially, among Martienssen’s students and followers. In the 1940s, the South African Architectural Record became the battleground for the architectural reinvention of modern South African taste. Indigenous architecture emerged as the ideal that could help the transition to a new character in architecture. Such was the success of Spence’s essay that Martienssen deepened his dedication to the indigenous theme, planning an entire issue of the Record focusing on traditional rural architecture of the Union, to be published in late 1942.18 Due to Martienssen’s tragic death in August 1942, however, the project never saw completion.19 Nonetheless, in the period 1942–50 the magazine published a large number of articles devoted to traditional South African architecture. Most of them were typological surveys, descriptions of indigenous settlements, and reports on the use of traditional materials in the villages. In 1949 and 1950, for example, James Walton, a historian and later a founding member of the Vernacular Architecture Society of South Africa, published accounts of the architecture of the Sotho and Nguni people (Figure 4).20 In 1947, Barrie Biermann, a former student in the School of Architecture at the University of Cape Town, reevaluated mud as a local and affordable material for housing construction.21

Figure 4

Taung hut with pebble mosaic decoration, Basutoland (James Walton, “South African Peasant Architecture: Southern Sotho Folk Building,” South African Architectural Record 34, no.1 [Jan. 1949], 2; 247.A.1.H[12b], James Walton Collection, Manuscripts Section, Library, University of Stellenbosch).

Figure 4

Taung hut with pebble mosaic decoration, Basutoland (James Walton, “South African Peasant Architecture: Southern Sotho Folk Building,” South African Architectural Record 34, no.1 [Jan. 1949], 2; 247.A.1.H[12b], James Walton Collection, Manuscripts Section, Library, University of Stellenbosch).

The Architectural Review and the Primitive

In the same period, the Architectural Review, a monthly architectural magazine founded in London in 1896, developed complementary interests. By the late 1930s the Architectural Review had established its reputation as a leading English-language architectural magazine and achieved a worldwide constituency. In October 1944, the Review published an issue devoted entirely to South African architecture.22 At the time the issue appeared, there were many personal connections among the editorial groups of the Architectural Review and the South African Architectural Record and extensive personal relations between South African intellectuals and officials of the Colonial Office (CO) in London, the British government department that oversaw the colonies. According to Richard Harris and Susan Parnell, during World War II “more than one CO staff member traveled to Cape Horn on holiday and returned to report on progress made in addressing African housing needs.” In the 1940s, the CO asked West African officials to consult on a 1943 issue of the South African Architectural Record that focused on the problem of housing indigenous people.23

In collaboration with the Review’s editorial group, members of the Transvaal Provincial Institute of South African Architects—a professional association founded in 1909—prepared the 1944 issue on South African architecture.24 To introduce its British readers to the topic, the issue presented a survey of the rapid architectural development of the region since the eighteenth century and described the social and economic changes that had affected the growth of South Africa. In the historical survey at the beginning of the issue, old Cape Dutch homesteads from the Western Cape found their place among other noble examples of the South African past and present, including Georgian houses, neoclassical monuments with domes and colonnades, and dams and infrastructure projects.25 Conversely, indigenous buildings had a separate section that depicted both traditional native settlements and “the misery, squalor, and the grinding poverty” of South African townships, the urban housing areas for migrant workers (Figure 5).26

Figure 5

Indigenous kraal in Pondoland (above) and Zulu huts in Natal (below) (“Native Housing,” Architectural Review 96, no. 574 [Oct. 1944], 107; reprinted with permission of the Architectural Review).

Figure 5

Indigenous kraal in Pondoland (above) and Zulu huts in Natal (below) (“Native Housing,” Architectural Review 96, no. 574 [Oct. 1944], 107; reprinted with permission of the Architectural Review).

The acting editor of the Architectural Review, Nikolaus Pevsner, played a central role in shaping this depiction of indigenous African architecture.27 With the guest editors, he supervised the content of the “Anthology,” “Marginalia,” and cover for the special issue on South Africa. For the cover, he and his staff selected an image of a rural woman with a child in her arms sitting in front of a traditional thatched hut (Figure 6).28 In noting that the woman and her child were “decidedly beautiful,” Pevsner expressed an aesthetic appreciation of the figures isolated from sentimental associations and focusing exclusively on their distinctive appearance.29 To contextualize this aestheticization of indigenous Africa, Pevsner used a quotation from Richard Payne Knight’s An Analytical Inquiry into the Principles of Taste. Knight was a classical scholar and archaeologist best known for his theories of the picturesque. Pevsner chose an excerpt from his inquiry on beauty. The text starts with a definition of “perfect beauty” and develops the concept of its relativity in the case, for example, of African beauty: “Who shall decide … whether the black or white model be, according to the laws of nature, the most perfect specimen of a perfect woman?”30 According to Knight, one can neither weigh nor measure the results of feelings or sentiments that produce the emotion of beauty. Pevsner included another quote from Voltaire, who also gave a relativist definition of African beauty in his Philosophical Dictionary of 1764: “Ask a Guinea Negro [what beauty is]; and with him beauty is a greasy black skin, hollow eyes, and a flat nose.”31

Figure 6

Cover, Architectural Review, October 1944 (Architectural Review 96, no. 574 [Oct. 1944]; reprinted with permission of the Architectural Review. Photograph by Constance Stuart Larrabee [Sotho mother and child, Basutoland, now Lesotho, South Africa, Constance Stuart Larrabee photographs, 1935–88 (bulk 1941–45), EEPA 1998-062577, Eliot Elisofon Photographic Archives, National Museum of African Art, Smithsonian Institution]).

Figure 6

Cover, Architectural Review, October 1944 (Architectural Review 96, no. 574 [Oct. 1944]; reprinted with permission of the Architectural Review. Photograph by Constance Stuart Larrabee [Sotho mother and child, Basutoland, now Lesotho, South Africa, Constance Stuart Larrabee photographs, 1935–88 (bulk 1941–45), EEPA 1998-062577, Eliot Elisofon Photographic Archives, National Museum of African Art, Smithsonian Institution]).

The last source Pevsner selected was Roger Fry, the renowned English artist and art critic, who extended Knight’s “discovery into the field of pure form.”32 In an essay published in 1920, Fry analyzed African sculpture: “Some of these [African] things are great sculpture—greater, I think, than anything we produced even in the Middle Ages. Certainly they have the special qualities of sculpture in a higher degree… . These African artists really conceive form in three dimensions.”33 Fry’s position was fundamental for Pevsner in appreciating the beauty of African arts, dissociating them from their colonial background, and perceiving them uniquely for their pure forms and aesthetic. In the “Marginalia” to the special issue, Pevsner wrote, “One needs Knight’s as well as Fry’s point of view to appreciate the beauties of African arts and African races.”34 Through this acceptance of the supremacy of the eye and the understanding of visual phenomena, Pevsner embraced a less hierarchical and more inclusive approach to architecture. This broader, more comprehensive attitude allowed him to maintain an argument for the relativity of African beauty and thus indigenous artistic and architectural aesthetics as a manifestation of the zeitgeist, the character of Africanness in the region (Figure 7).35 The cover for the 1944 issue is a clear example of Pevsner’s conception of indigenous African zeitgeist, which he recognized as a visible harmony and the “primitive state.”36

Figure 7

Grass rope and reeds used to construct native dwellings in Basutoland (“Native Housing,” Architectural Review 96, no. 574 [Oct. 1944], 109; reprinted with permission of the Architectural Review).

Figure 7

Grass rope and reeds used to construct native dwellings in Basutoland (“Native Housing,” Architectural Review 96, no. 574 [Oct. 1944], 109; reprinted with permission of the Architectural Review).

In July 1946, in response to growing interest in African culture, the Architectural Review under Pevsner published “The Architecture of Swaziland,” by Hilda Beemer Kuper.37 Kuper was a renowned social anthropologist who had studied at the University of the Witwatersrand in South Africa and at the London School of Economics under the charismatic anthropologist Bronislaw Malinowski.38 Kuper compiled the material for her article from 1934 to 1937 with the support of a research fellowship granted by the International African Institute. She had already written two major articles on the topic, one appearing in Bantu Studies in 1935 and the other in the journal Africa in 1937.39 However, those earlier articles did not consider architecture, a “minor sideline” for anthropologists.40 In her 1946 article, Kuper gave a short analysis of the topography, hydrology, and climate of the Protectorate of Swaziland—a Southern African region subject to Britain and surrounded by Mozambique and South Africa—and described traditional Swazi buildings.

Kuper recognized three key structures in the architecture of local homesteads: the cattle byre, the great hut, and the bachelors’ quarter. She focused on the construction of what she called the “living hut” and the preparatory religious treatment of the site, describing the sequence of building the hut, its form, and the social significance of rituals (Figure 8). The tribe built each circular hut out of grass tied into bundles and covered with thatching mats. Together, men and women worked for days to clear the site, cut the logs for cattle fencing, and choose grass and tie it into bundles for thatching and ropes. When all the huts were finished, a reed fence was built to screen each group. The article concluded with a description of the settlement’s morphology and the process of moving these nonpermanent, nomadic homesteads (Figure 9).41

Figure 8

Original sketches later published in Hilda Kuper, “The Architecture of Swaziland” (Architectural Review 100, no. 595 [July 1946], 24; Hilda Kuper papers [Collection 1343], Library Special Collections, Charles E. Young Research Library, University of California, Los Angeles).

Figure 8

Original sketches later published in Hilda Kuper, “The Architecture of Swaziland” (Architectural Review 100, no. 595 [July 1946], 24; Hilda Kuper papers [Collection 1343], Library Special Collections, Charles E. Young Research Library, University of California, Los Angeles).

Figure 9

Construction and relocation of a Swazi hut (later published in Hilda Kuper, “The Architecture of Swaziland,” Architectural Review 100, no. 595 [July 1946], 23; Hilda Kuper papers [Collection 1343], Library Special Collections, Charles E. Young Research Library, University of California, Los Angeles).

Figure 9

Construction and relocation of a Swazi hut (later published in Hilda Kuper, “The Architecture of Swaziland,” Architectural Review 100, no. 595 [July 1946], 23; Hilda Kuper papers [Collection 1343], Library Special Collections, Charles E. Young Research Library, University of California, Los Angeles).

As Pevsner emphasized in his short introduction to the article, Kuper’s was “the first detailed description of any indigenous South Eastern Bantu construction to be published” in the Architectural Review.42 The essay analyzed architecture that expressed the principles of the vernacular as conceived by Pevsner in his magazine. Moreover, it articulated the development of cultural relativism and the growing interest in race relations in postwar Britain.43 As Pevsner noted in the introduction to Kuper’s article, “Physical construction does not complete the Swazi home,” but, in his opinion, the hut was part of a broader cultural framework, serving as an expression of the Swazi community’s complexity and zeitgeist.44 In Swazi society, as in any society, design and taste could be understood and developed only in the context of their interactions with social and technological conditions. As a result, “it is apparent that the individual Bantu requires at least as much skill in his own construction of grass and trees as the individual European in his construction of steel and concrete.”45 According to Pevsner, no comparison could be made between European and Swazi architecture.46 However, the description of indigenous abilities in construction and the comprehension of the Swazi zeitgeist could help the reader of the Architectural Review understand the notion of zeitgeist and, by analogy, appreciate British vernacular and Englishness. Pevsner believed in the history of architecture as a social and critic activity; through the inclusion of foreign vernacular traditions—such as the indigenous Swati architecture described in Kuper’s article—he transferred the concept of zeitgeist to the British context, encouraging recognition of English traditions.47

The Indigenous Model

In the South African Union during the postwar period, indigenous South African architecture was promoted mainly in connection with the ongoing expansion of segregated townships and the provision of urban housing for native migrant workers. Since the end of the nineteenth century, landless Africans had supplied labor for European-owned farms and industry, such as mining, where they were employed as migrant laborers working on a yearly contract basis. In Kimberley and Johannesburg, the diamond mines introduced workers’ housing areas known as compounds. In the compounds, migrant laborers, far from their homes and families, were confined to all-male complexes that they could not leave freely; their movements were restricted in an effort to prevent the theft of diamonds.48 With increasingly intensive industrialization and greater migration to industrial sites, compound building commenced on a scale that overtook the Kimberley and Johannesburg prototypes. Miners established themselves on the peripheries of mining properties or encamped in wasteland adjacent to garbage dumps. Taking as a pretext the unsanitary conditions caused by their own neglect, South African municipalities, including Johannesburg and Pretoria, destroyed these first settlements and removed thousands of workers into “temporary segregation camps” developed on the compound model.49 After passage of the Natives Urban Areas Act of 1923 and other similar regulations, these ghettos expanded into townships—segregated urban housing areas for migrant African workers.50 What began as the seasonal movement of male African miners became a periodic diaspora of diggers and domestic servants picking up house jobs in the city and living in the townships.51 Sophiatown and Orlando in Johannesburg and Marabastad and Bantule around Pretoria, among others, became segregated dormitory zones where people from the countryside lived in conditions of absolute poverty, without sewerage, services, or electricity. As the Architectural Review stated in its 1944 issue on South Africa: “The breadth and freshness of the countryside is exchanged for the misery, squalor and the grinding poverty of the life in the ‘locations’ [townships] that may be found on the outskirts of most South African towns… . The low economic level of the natives in these urban concentrations automatically fosters overcrowding as the only solution”52 (Figure 10).

Figure 10

Orlando and Moroko, townships outside Johannesburg (Nikolaus Pevsner, “Johannesburg: The Development of a Contemporary Vernacular in the Transvaal,” Architectural Review 113, no. 678 [June 1953], 363; reprinted with permission of the Architectural Review).

Figure 10

Orlando and Moroko, townships outside Johannesburg (Nikolaus Pevsner, “Johannesburg: The Development of a Contemporary Vernacular in the Transvaal,” Architectural Review 113, no. 678 [June 1953], 363; reprinted with permission of the Architectural Review).

After the war, architect Paul Connell addressed the problems of providing housing for the massive numbers of Africans in the townships.53 Earlier, like many of his colleagues at the University of the Witwatersrand and in Martienssen’s Transvaal group, he had worked on architecture for indigenous people. Connell graduated from the Wits Schools as one of the coauthors of an acclaimed thesis titled Native Housing, completed in 1939.54 In 1947, after eighteen months of field observation in the countryside, Connell gave an important speech in which he proposed that architects study tribal buildings to solve the problem of South African urbanization; the speech was published in the South African Architectural Record.55 Connell saw the task of South African architects as more than meeting the technical demands of supplying adequate hygiene and sanitation in the urban townships. According to Connell, designing and planning were a “social responsibility of the first consequence,” not only in relation to the actual demand for dwellings but also “for the future of South Africa.”56

In his speech, Connell admitted that although “advances” had been made in the quality of the houses and in the level of hygiene and sanitation in the townships, the architects involved in the project of modern housing for the Africans had failed. He noted: “I do really believe that it represents a story of failure: failure to appreciate the needs of the urban Native, both as an individual and as a member of a community; and failure, too, to create for him an environment conducive to the nurture of the family and to the promotion of good citizenship.”57 Connell was persuaded that architects should study the problem afresh, consider the point of view of the occupiers and their needs, and propose new solutions. They should focus not only on plans, materials, and costs but also—and mainly—on the quality of life offered. After Pevsner visited South Africa in 1952, he expressed similar sentiments.58 On his return to Britain, he published a commentary on his travels in the Architectural Review: “Planned estates for African workers designed by the best architects in the Transvaal are the most urgent necessity, and they could become one of Johannesburg’s visually most attractive features. The cleanliness of the kraal is guarantee for the way in which they would be kept.”59 According to Pevsner, 200,000 people were in need of such houses. They could and should have been built on the indigenous example, but the municipality did not provide such housing. As a result, regrettable shantytowns developed around Johannesburg (see Figure 10).60

Connell argued that these shantytowns failed to support native Africans’ transition from rural to urban areas. In laying out the modern South African city for the indigenous, he asserted, the authorities had adopted the pattern of domestic development used in the European areas. Indeed, most townships developed on the gridiron plan, unsuitable for housing indigenous people. In these towns the individual was made insignificant “in comparison with the gargantuan scale of the town pattern,” while the sense of communal life was reduced to little or nothing.61 The contrast to conditions in rural villages of the countryside was too great. Pevsner maintained a similar position: “The building of blocks of flats has recently been recommended to house African workers. I doubt the wisdom of this. The contrast to conditions at home, that is in the kraal, would be too great. Once an urbanized population has finally settled down to decent living that may change. For the moment it is small houses not flats that must solve the problem of native housing.”62 In the view shared by Pevsner and Connell, the repetition of conventional street patterns and the superimposition of European-style individualized houses destroyed social cohesiveness for indigenous people; even when community centers and similar facilities were provided, residents had no incentive to participate in the life of the community.63

In Connell’s opinion, “The use of the straight street has destroyed that intimate scale which is a feature of Native Architecture.”64 To find a solution to the problem, he focused on the relations among villages and buildings in the indigenous villages outside Johannesburg. Whether in a small group of huts, a village, or a large indigenous settlement, “the human scale [remained] the yardstick and [was] preserved throughout.”65 Contributing to the development of social relations, every element, room, and hut was coordinated in the design of the village. According to Connell, this use of the human scale was deep-seated in tribal architecture and handled with extraordinary ability.66

In her 1940 article for the South African Architectural Record, Spence briefly discussed the relationship of the dwelling to its natural surroundings and the connection of the observer with the landscape. According to Spence, the indigenous buildings of the Sotho people were so well integrated with the natural milieu that at a distance they were indistinguishable from it. “Nature was used as part of the design—a tall tree to balance a spreading kraal, a poinsettia bush vivid against a grey wall, a back screen of blue gums. It may be unconscious but it is good.”67 Connell extended the argument. Like Spence, he identified an empathy for and assimilation into the landscape in the village. However, Connell found “something more to it than the charm of the picturesque” that was expressed in Spence’s interpretation.68 To build their dwellings the indigenous people used specific design techniques, such as following what Connell called the “flowing line.” Connell observed that indigenous geometry was not based on straight lines or right angles; instead, buildings were placed along the flowing line, the natural contours, of the site. By situating buildings this way, the indigenous people merged the kraals with natural features. The landscape became part of the design, with trees and bushes becoming elements of the plan, and rocks and slopes serving specific functions in the life of the community. As a result, the sense of the group of huts as a unique entity within its landscape was preserved and enhanced.69

According to Connell, architects needed to examine all these characteristics in depth, since they could contribute to the design of new housing plans. Challenging the mechanical repetition of types characteristic of the European grid, he proposed an association of houses around public and open spaces. Inhabitants would develop a sense of citizenship in a community where people coming from the countryside could have a share. Connell proposed mixing different housing types and adding variety to plans, as he had seen in indigenous villages. He also recommended that architects investigate indigenous comfort, furnishings, and fixed equipment in order to understand the fundamental relations between native householders and the places where they lived.70

South African Regionalism

The indigenous architecture of South Africa continued to attract attention after the Nationalist government took power in 1948. Motivated by personal and intellectual interests, architects visited traditional South African indigenous settlements. These architects took tribal architecture as a model not only for native housing but also for public buildings and private houses for the middle class. Such was the case of Norman Eaton, a Pretoria-born architect with strong Afrikaner ties. Beginning in the 1930s, Eaton visited the indigenous Ndebele and Pedi villages outside Pretoria and observed the culture that also captivated his friends Adriaan Louw Meiring and Barrie Biermann, renowned South African architects, and the artists Walter Battiss and Alexis Preller, who often accompanied him on his visits.71 “Too eccentric” to be in the inner circle of le Groupe Transvaal—as Le Corbusier called his modern followers in South Africa—from the beginning Eaton was “a remote figure outside the hurly-burly of general practice.”72 A frequent contributor to the South African Architectural Record, he built celebrated brick houses in the countryside of Pretoria and renowned bank buildings with African details in the city center.73

Like Connell, Eaton declared that the new housing projects provided for indigenous people in the townships were cold and inhuman. Their gridiron plans of identical units produced characterless settlements that filled him “with a sense of their conceited clumsiness.”74 In the name of Western health and economy, Eaton asserted, South African development was destroying any indigenous architectural tradition, creating complicated, disharmonious, and chaotic towns. South African architects had lost sight of the qualities of traditional African architecture and the lessons it could teach them.75

The tribal traditions of South Africa held fundamental lessons for Eaton’s professional development.76 For years he studied the villages and visited indigenous buildings. He drew sketches of tribal art in his notebooks and wrote descriptions of indigenous construction techniques. The sculptures, patterns, and crafts that Eaton examined during his visits to Ndebele and Pedi villages possessed what he later described as “the African quality.”77 “This humility, this receptive attention to the great natural truths which is the basis of all true beauty and therefore of Art and Architecture is a quality which is still a natural part of the native of this country but it has become lost to us Europeans as a whole,” he wrote.78 Examining different interpretations of vernacular and indigenous architecture and drawing on local traditions, Eaton extended his study beyond architectural movements and styles, working out new solutions to the problem of the coexistence between indigenous and Western traditions. Indeed, after his “discovery” of the indigenous, Eaton developed the concept of the tribal village as the perfect model and romanticized an African ideal.79 Yet he did not explain in tangible ways what “the African quality” was or how it could be achieved through design. In his texts, Eaton focused on the attitude necessary to understanding indigenous architecture, with its African quality, inner truths, and purity. This comprehension came as a revelation from the development of a personal perspective on architecture and a different way of looking at problems.

Eaton’s built work, in which topographical and climatic sensibility combine with respect for indigenous architecture and the search for the African quality, expresses the attributes described in his writings. Roger Fisher called him “the progenitor—and still the most important representative—of what has come to be called Pretoria Regionalism.”80 As Clive Chipkin has observed, Eaton developed his prewar modern regional style by looking at traditional Africa; this style reached professional maturity in his postwar houses.81 Greenwood House in the Willows of Pretoria displays Eaton’s understanding of the African quality. The main building—the design of which was begun in August 1948 for the Greenwood family—is a clear case of modern South African regionalism, with regular forms, random kopje-stone walling, flat low roofs, and cool white living spaces (Figure 11).82 The generous dimensions of the four-bedroom house, its horizontality, and the use of local and natural materials such as wood and stone directly responded to the characteristics of the beautiful hilly landscape of the Willows.

Figure 11

Norman Eaton, Greenwood House, Willows, Pretoria, plan and section, May 1949 (Norman Eaton Collection, Department of Architecture, University of Pretoria).

Figure 11

Norman Eaton, Greenwood House, Willows, Pretoria, plan and section, May 1949 (Norman Eaton Collection, Department of Architecture, University of Pretoria).

The client also wanted a separate “village” for the domestic servants. This ensemble was situated to the southeast of the house and consisted of several rondavels—indigenous round stone huts with thatched roofs (Figure 12). The rondavels were of different sizes and heights and evoked a type of kraal, the typical South African settlement. A boundary wall with a single entrance to the west closed the village’s circle. Several trees stood inside and around the group of huts (Figure 13).

Figure 12

Norman Eaton, Greenwood village, Willows, Pretoria, plan and sections, April 1950 (Norman Eaton Collection, Department of Architecture, University of Pretoria).

Figure 12

Norman Eaton, Greenwood village, Willows, Pretoria, plan and sections, April 1950 (Norman Eaton Collection, Department of Architecture, University of Pretoria).

Figure 13

Norman Eaton, Greenwood village, Willows, Pretoria, view from the northeast, ca. 1971 (photo by Clinton Fines Harrop-Allin; Clinton Fines Harrop-Allin, “The Work of the Architect Norman Eaton: An Art-Historical Study” [degree of master of arts, Department of History of Art and Fine Arts, University of South Africa, October 1972], 83).

Figure 13

Norman Eaton, Greenwood village, Willows, Pretoria, view from the northeast, ca. 1971 (photo by Clinton Fines Harrop-Allin; Clinton Fines Harrop-Allin, “The Work of the Architect Norman Eaton: An Art-Historical Study” [degree of master of arts, Department of History of Art and Fine Arts, University of South Africa, October 1972], 83).

In his 1953 survey for the Architectural Review, Pevsner mentioned Greenwood House and its servants’ village. Eaton’s design for the homesteads was very different from the usual arrangement, which accommodated servants and masters in separate areas of the same building. Pevsner noted that “Eaton’s fantastic kraal of rondavels is emphatically an exception” to the usual problems raised when Europeans and Africans resided in the main house.83 The client’s request for an isolated and independent living area for the domestics gave Eaton the opportunity to generate a design with special concern for the culture of the African inhabitants. Indeed, the evocation of African tradition in the Greenwood “kraal” was apparent in the importation and revival of African village forms as well as on another level: the homestead responded to its inhabitants’ needs and cultural habits. The group of huts accommodated about twelve people. A separate rondavel incorporated cooking facilities, and places for cleaning and washing were provided in smaller rondavels. In its center, the village had a sloping outdoor space for social activities and several trees under which the inhabitants could gather. Eaton did not modify the site outside the village. In this way, building and landscape were integrated in the design of place-specific architecture.84 The result was an earthbound group of buildings that sensitively answered inhabitants’ needs and was sympathetic to the characteristics of the existing landscape.

The idea of an architectural integration and synthesis with nature found expression in the Greenwood village, where Eaton used stone and rubble masonry, straw coverings, and wooden doors, windows, and structures—elements incorporating traditional materials usually present in the indigenous village. He claimed that architects could achieve the African quality by “using as a basis for all creative effort all elements building up to that harmonious synthesis … [that] ‘wholeness’ which is Life itself.”85 His “sensuous love for materials” was evident in the Greenwood village and in many of his other projects, particularly in their treatment of paving surfaces, interior walls, and exterior façades.86 The ambitious and renowned paving of Polly’s Arcade in the Wachthuis Building of Pretoria is a remarkable example (Figure 14).87 Here, as in Greenwood House, Eaton generated a design with spatial qualities derived from his understanding of African traditions. Entirely designed by the architect, the floor is composed of thousands of marble tiles hand-cut by local stonemasons.88 Eaton drew inspiration for this mosaic project from motifs of the ancient Zimbabwe and the contemporary Ndebele, perpetuating the theoretical understanding of Africa as a homogeneous and monolithic whole where his impression of the “African quality” converged.89 Masterfully laid out, the tiles produce a dynamic and vibrant spatial composition unique in its genre. Different colors and materials take part in what can be described as a total experience for the spectator.

Figure 14

Norman Eaton, Polly’s Arcade, Wachthuis Building, Pretoria, stairwell detail, 1953 (Norman Eaton Collection, Department of Architecture, University of Pretoria).

Figure 14

Norman Eaton, Polly’s Arcade, Wachthuis Building, Pretoria, stairwell detail, 1953 (Norman Eaton Collection, Department of Architecture, University of Pretoria).

“Westernization” and Native Architecture

Following Connell’s 1947 article, several surveys of native architecture were made in the South African countryside. That summer, Gilbert Herbert, a student at the University of the Witwatersrand, joined a multidisciplinary and multiethnic expedition of graduate students who set out to survey housing in the traditional village of Ndabakazi, in the Transkei district—the present Eastern Cape Province.90 Herbert directed the architectural team and was responsible for investigating the architecture of the region. In 1949, he published “Rural Native Housing at Ndabakazi: A Report” in the South African Architectural Record.91 In the article, he presented the results of the project and described the Transkei district and Butterworth, a rural town with a cinema, several hotels, and a hospital. The survey focused on the Fingo people living in the village of Ndabakazi, some miles outside Butterworth. In the village each hut took a rectangular or circular form, thatched or iron covered. The huts were grouped in clusters of four or five and often had no foundations. Their windows were homemade, while doors were sometimes purchased secondhand from traders.

According to Herbert, the African villagers of Ndabakazi had had contact with the European way of life when residents began migrating to the city. As a consequence, they did not live the pastoral and agricultural life of their forefathers, “untouched” by colonial influence.92 Materials such as iron, commonly associated with European housing and with a higher standard of living, had replaced thatch in roofs. Being secondhand and unpainted, the iron deteriorated rapidly, resulting in terribly hot and uncomfortable spaces in the huts. In 1944, the Architectural Review summarized the phenomenon: “The ancient crafts and customs of the Bantu are rapidly giving ground to the European ways of life, and much is being lost on the way.”93

In the 1940s, such Westernization accelerated in the countryside. Herbert, impressed by its dramatic increase, described how the changes affected indigenous people and how it transformed their cultural and architectural standards. Social models were changing within different ethnic groups and within individual groups across generations. Accordingly, quality of life was transforming too. In Herbert’s opinion, indigenous people’s lives were “more complicated” than they had been in the past, and their needs were more diverse, while “the hut has not kept the pace.”94 Herbert was aware that this situation stemmed from “a problem not necessarily of a quantitative character, but rather of a qualitative nature.”95

Migrancy—that is, habitual movement in search of work—was one of the principal factors in the transformation of rural tribal life. Three years after the unification of South Africa in 1913, the government approved the Natives Land Act, a measure that divided the land between indigenous and European people. The law institutionalized and rationalized the creation of the native reserves and made it a criminal offense for Africans to purchase or lease land from Europeans outside the reserves.96 As a result, in 1916 the African population of seven million occupied a little less than 10 percent of the total land area of the country.97 In 1944, the Architectural Review described these reserves as “the depressed rural areas out of which the inhabitants are forced through economic pressure from time to time to seek a temporary livelihood in the cities, returning again, in many cases, when improved financial circumstances permit.”98 The isolated economy of the reserves produced a ready supply of indigenous labor for European-owned mines and farms. Over the years, this seasonal migrant labor became fundamental to the formation of the modern South African economy.99 Johannesburg, Pretoria, and other South African cities became the destinations of the rural poor, who returned to their villages seasonally; most male migrants and laborers lived a dual city-village existence for decades as people of the countryside were forced to follow seasonal migration to sustain their primarily rural way of life. In the 1930s, most male laborers still considered migrancy and working in the cities an essential sacrifice that enabled them to obtain the resources to marry, build homesteads, and finally afford retirement to their villages. They disparaged cities, which had none of the fundamental institutions crucial to tribal relationships, such as initiation, elder authorities, and chieftainship.100 In precolonial times, South African people generally lived in large three-generation homesteads.101 While migrancy in the first half of the twentieth century did not destroy these households, its evolution into a mass phenomenon led to increasing social fragmentation. The continuous movement of people encouraged the formation of smaller nuclear groups and led to destructive consequences for extended family life. Eventually, the patterns of migrant labor disrupted village and tribal hierarchies, with devastating results for patriarchal control, generational authority, and social identity.102

The indigenous homesteads themselves were subject to relentless change. Westernization affected every scale of design, from the settlement and the hut to interiors, materials, and furniture. The units of settlement progressively declined in size. In 1949, Herbert noted how materials selection had developed toward Westernized preferences, such as iron roofs. In her 1940 article, Spence observed that a “complete (and unpleasant) confirmation of European influence [was] given by the contents of the hut—a ‘modernistic’ set of dining-room table and chairs.”103 However, the sporadic presence of migrant workers in the villages did not totally transform the rural, indigenous world. Traditional values, culture, and social organization changed and yet continued. Migrant labor became integrated into people’s subsistence, while land and architecture still played fundamental roles in sustaining indigenous cultural life.

A remarkable example of the integration of native and European culture was found in the architecture of the Southern Ndebele, or M’pogga, the subject of a 1954 Architectural Review article by Barrie Biermann and Betty Spence as well as a 1955 essay by Adriaan Louw Meiring in the South African Architectural Record.104 These authors described Ndebele buildings as huts of mud with wooden frames and thatched roofs; some of the huts were square and others circular, and they were surrounded by courtyards and enclosed within low walls.105 The partitions and the walls of the huts were painted with colorful, vivid murals both inside and outside (Figure 15). Ndebele women decorated the walls with vibrant patterns and abstract forms, using colors obtained from clay deposits and natural materials.106 Redecoration occurred every year after the rainy season, and, as the architects noted, the women employed decorative motifs derived from European as well as African cultures and traditions.107

Figure 15

Painted murals in an Ndebele village (Betty Spence and Barrie Biermann, “M’pogga,” Architectural Review 116, no. 691 [July 1954], 37; reprinted with permission of the Architectural Review).

Figure 15

Painted murals in an Ndebele village (Betty Spence and Barrie Biermann, “M’pogga,” Architectural Review 116, no. 691 [July 1954], 37; reprinted with permission of the Architectural Review).

The authors of both articles regarded the presence of European patterns in indigenous decorations as a sign of the unavoidable Westernization occurring in the countryside. According to Spence and Biermann, having turned to mud-brick construction after contact with European colonizers, the Ndebele people found themselves faced “with large unfamiliar expanses of empty wall surface.”108 As a consequence, they employed motifs that drew partly on their traditional arts and partly on the European visual world that they encountered in the city. These motifs mixed abstract and figurative themes. Among the latter were representations of monumental buildings, such as the Indian Mosque of Pretoria, and sometimes “a charming Eastern building hidden behind a row of European offices and stores” (Figure 16).109

Figure 16

Ndebele murals depicting buildings in Pretoria (Betty Spence and Barrie Biermann, “M’pogga,” Architectural Review 116, no. 691 [July 1954], 38; reprinted with permission of the Architectural Review).

Figure 16

Ndebele murals depicting buildings in Pretoria (Betty Spence and Barrie Biermann, “M’pogga,” Architectural Review 116, no. 691 [July 1954], 38; reprinted with permission of the Architectural Review).

According to the authors, before the great Southern African migrations of the early nineteenth century (Difaqane) and the twentieth century, the Ndebele had no tradition of painted architecture.110 By the 1940s, after the Ndebele had experienced recurrent contact with urban culture, their methods of building were disrupted, and their authentic art and architecture succumbed to the art of “the more powerful Western culture.”111 As a result, the Ndebele started painting murals, with Western motifs occurring more and more frequently. In the authors’ view, indigenous architecture of the 1950s developed in the context of experience with European architecture, and the murals became the sign of a slow but inescapable surrender to the Western world. The Ndebele were “suspended, temporarily, between two ways of life,” the European and the indigenous.112 The authors described them as occupying a position in which cultures overlapped—a situation that, by its nature, could only be temporary. As Spence and Biermann put it, “They and their buildings are in a transitional stage between two cultures and must, in the nature of things, pass away.”113 From this point of view, the Westernized Ndebele architecture, neither contemporary nor traditional, was corrupted and thus inexorably condemned to a quick end.

Conclusion

The articles published in the Architectural Review and the South African Architectural Record during the 1940s and 1950s show a deep interest in indigenous South African architecture among British and South African architects and critics. Promoting the exchange between architectural cultures, designers and historians appreciated and borrowed from South African traditions, challenging the modernist idiom. Betty Spence and Rex Martienssen were the first to introduce indigenous building traditions to the discourse on architecture in the South African Architectural Record. Yet they admired tribal architecture for its untouched purity and beauty. Searching for an ideal capable of helping the architectural reinvention of South African development, they made indigenous and classical architecture equivalent. While Nikolaus Pevsner appreciated vernacular South Africa for its aesthetic character capable of conveying the idea of the African zeitgeist, he perpetuated a narrative of primitiveness and colonial domination. Through his projects for public buildings and private houses for the middle class, Norman Eaton romanticized the connection between native architecture and the land while nurturing Afrikaner nationalism and regionalist traditions. Similarly, other South Africans studied tribal architecture and borrowed from its traditions. Paul Connell acknowledged the integrity and appropriateness of tribal architecture and advocated the incorporation of elements of that architecture in designs for native housing. However, he promoted an understanding of indigenous architecture only in terms of a solution for housing the thousands of displaced South African workers who lived in terrible conditions in the townships. By contrast, in the 1950s, Betty Spence, Barrie Biermann, and Adriaan Louw Meiring criticized native builders, such as the Ndebele, when they appropriated and borrowed building techniques, materials, and motifs from the Europeanized cities where Africans worked seasonally. Perpetuating the evolutionary model of colonial dominance, they viewed indigenous adaptation as a sign of an inevitable surrender to Western culture.

Despite an open-minded attitude that ignited interest in South African traditions among British and South African architects, the articles published in the Architectural Review and the South African Architectural Record show an asymmetry in the discourse on indigenous architecture. The articles reveal a deep imbalance within the magazines’ cultural milieu that was bolstered in the architectural exchange between European and African cultures. Both British and South African architects and historians promoted a Eurocentric perception of indigenous South Africa. In nurturing an interest in tribal architecture, the Architectural Review and the South African Architectural Record participated in the unequal power dynamics of colonialism and apartheid. As a result, the native voice was almost completely silenced in the magazines.

The issue was not the inability of modern architects to design in response to African traditions or the indigenous assimilation of Western techniques; rather, it was the persistence of an attitude in which cultural exchange was seen only from the Western point of view. In the Architectural Review and the South African Architectural Record very little was said about the architectural production of millions of migrant workers when they returned home to rural areas, and the magazines made only a modest effort to address how migration affected the evolution of indigenous cultural and artistic traditions. They could not examine tribal architecture without a mediating colonial lens, outside the idea of indigenous design as an expression of either original purity or tragic deskilling.

The asymmetry seen in the pages of the Architectural Review and the South African Architectural Record has the potential to inform crucial debates among architects and historians reexamining architectural history before and after the definitive establishment of the apartheid system in 1948. As the journal articles discussed here show, the South African example illuminates a new genealogy that reveals unknown exchanges, mutual relationships, and reciprocal connections among distant traditions. This study highlights the urgent need for more critical uncoding of colonial ideologies in African architecture and for reflexive analysis of current narratives of colonization and postcolonization. To unpack the complexity of the postwar encounter with diversity, we must search for more appropriate ways of working on the relations between subjects and on the concepts of interrelation and reciprocity among different architectural cultures.

Notes

1.

The research in this essay has accumulated over a number of years, but this synthesis evolved in the course of a recent postdoctoral fellowship under the People Programme (Marie Curie Actions) of the European Union’s 7FP (FP/2007-2013, REA grant agreement n.327261), which I gratefully acknowledge. I would like to thank the Department of the History of Art at the University of Pennsylvania and the African and African American Studies Department at Harvard University for their support of the research.

2.

For the history of the magazine, see Gilbert Herbert, Martienssen and the International Style: The Modern Movement in South African Architecture (Cape Town: A. A. Balkema, 1975), 16–17.

3.

See, for example, Stanley Furner, “The Modern Movement in Architecture, Part 1,” South African Architectural Record 10, no. 40 (Dec. 1925), 87–89; Stanley Furner, “The Modern Movement in Architecture, Part 2,” South African Architectural Record 11, no. 41 (Mar. 1926), 6–8.

4.

Betty Spence, “Native Architecture,” South African Architectural Record 25, no. 11 (Nov. 1940), 386–91.

5.

See Paul Maylam, A History of the African People of South Africa: From the Early Iron Age to the 1970s (London: Croom Helm, 1986).

6.

Spence, “Native Architecture,” 387.

7.

On colonial architecture in South Africa, see G. E. Pearse, Eighteenth Century Architecture in South Africa (Cape Town: A. A. Balkema, 1957); R. Lewcock, Early Nineteenth Century Architecture in South Africa (Cape Town: A. A. Balkema, 1963).

8.

Spence, “Native Architecture,” 387.

9.

Herbert, Martienssen and the International Style, 36–48, 109–35.

10.

Rex Martienssen, “Architecture and Modern Life,” South African Architectural Record 13, no. 56 (Dec. 1929), 128. See also Rex Martienssen, “Evolution of an Architect’s House, 1940,” South African Architectural Record 27, no. 2 (Feb. 1942), 26.

11.

Martienssen, “Evolution of an Architect’s House,” 19. On the relationship between Martienssen and Le Corbusier, see Clive M. Chipkin, Johannesburg Style: Architecture and Society, 1880s–1960s (Cape Town: D. Philip, 1993), 155–58; Herbert, Martienssen and the International Style, 100–102.

12.

These are some of the architects whose projects Martienssen discussed in his 1942 article for the South African Architectural Record, “Evolution of an Architect’s House,” 19–44.

13.

Chipkin, Johannesburg Style, 158.

14.

Martienssen, “Evolution of an Architect’s House,” 29.

15.

Spence, “Native Architecture,” 388.

16.

Ibid., 390, 388.

17.

Ibid., 388.

18.

Before World War II, Martienssen and his wife, architect and historian Heather Martienssen, planned to travel outside the Union, probably to Europe. The war changed their plans and confined them in South Africa. Herbert, Martienssen and the International Style, 210.

19.

Martienssen died as a result of coronary sclerosis while he was in training with the air force section of the Rand University Training Corps during World War II. He was only thirty-seven years old. See ibid., 245.

20.

James Walton, “South African Peasant Architecture: Southern Sotho Folk Building,” South African Architectural Record 34, no. 1 (Jan. 1949), 3–12; James Walton, “South African Peasant Architecture: Nguni Folk Building,” South African Architectural Record 35, no. 2 (Feb. 1950), 30–39.

21.

Barrie Biermann, “Mud as Building Material,” South African Architectural Record 32, no. 9 (Sept. 1947), 248–53.

22.

Architectural Review 96, no. 574 (Oct. 1944).

23.

Richard Harris and Susan Parnell, “The Turning Point in Urban Policy for British Colonial Africa, 1939–1945,” in Colonial Architecture and Urbanism in Africa: Intertwined and Contested Histories, ed. Fassil Demissie (Farnham, England: Ashgate, 2011), 142–43; South African Architectural Record 28, nos. 6/7 (June/July 1943).

24.

Among the guest editors were Montague Leo Bryer, John Fassler, Norman Hanson, and Duncan Howie, who collected, edited, and wrote the issue. South African architects and professors William Gordon McIntosh, Geoffrey E. Pearse, and Gordon Leith contributed information concerning architectural work done during the early twentieth century. See “Introduction,” Architectural Review 96, no. 574 (Oct. 1944), 93.

25.

“Architecture from 1700 to 1930,” Architectural Review 96, no. 574 (Oct. 1944), 95–106.

26.

“Native Housing,” Architectural Review 96, no. 574 (Oct. 1944), 108.

27.

J. M. Richards was editor of the Architectural Review from 1937 to 1971; from 1943 to 1945 Nikolaus Pevsner was acting editor. Gillian Naylor, “Good Design in British Industry 1930–56,” in Reassessing Nikolaus Pevsner, ed. Peter Draper (Burlington, Vt.: Ashgate, 2003), 182.

28.

The cover for the October 1944 issue of the Architectural Review was designed by Peter Ray from a photograph taken by Constance Stuart.

29.

“Marginalia,” Architectural Review 96, no. 574 (Oct. 1944), xlv.

30.

Richard Payne Knight, “Anthology: On the Relativity of Taste,” Architectural Review 96, no. 574 (Oct. 1944), xlv, quoted from Richard Payne Knight, An Analytical Inquiry into the Principles of Taste (London: T. Payne [etc.], 1806), 15.

31.

“Marginalia,” xlv, quoted from M. de Voltaire, The Philosophical Dictionary (London: Wynne and Scholey and James Wallis, 1802), 34.

32.

Ibid. In 1941, Pevsner wrote about Roger Fry in the Architectural Review. Nikolaus Pevsner, “Omega: Roger Fry and the Omega Workshops,” Architectural Review 90, no. 536 (Aug. 1941), 45–48.

33.

Roger Fry, “Negro Sculpture at the Chelsea Book Club, 1920,” in Primitivism and Twentieth-Century Art: A Documentary History, ed. Jack Flam with Miriam Deutch (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2003), 146.

34.

“Marginalia,” xlv.

35.

The zeitgeist—the dominant spirit that influences the culture of a particular period in time—remained a key notion for Pevsner during his entire career. For a discussion of the zeitgeist and the role of this concept in the development of Pevsner’s thinking, see Andrew Causey, “Pevsner and Englishness,” in Draper, Reassessing Nikolaus Pevsner, 161–72.

36.

Describing Zulu craftsmen, the Architectural Review affirmed: “Their plastic art [is] epitomised in the delightfully primitive pottery.” “Native Housing,” Architectural Review, 108.

37.

Hilda Kuper, “The Architecture of Swaziland,” Architectural Review 100, no. 595 (July 1946), 21–24.

38.

Hilda Beemer Kuper (1911–92) was known for her extensive work on Swazi culture, including her dissertation, An African Aristocracy: Rank among the Swazi (London: Oxford University Press, 1947); Hilda Kuper, The Uniform of Colour: A Study of White-Black Relationships in Swaziland (Johannesburg: Witwatersrand University Press, 1947); and Hilda Kuper, The Swazi: A South African Kingdom (New York: Holt, Rinehart & Winston, 1963). In 1978 she published an extensive official biography of Sobhuza II: Hilda Kuper, Sobhuza II, Ngwenyama and King of Swaziland: The Story of an Hereditary Ruler and His Country (New York: Africana, 1978).

39.

Hilda Kuper, “The Swazi Rain Ceremony,” Bantu Studies 9 (1935), 273–80; Hilda Kuper, “The Development of the Military Organization in Swaziland,” Africa 10 (1937), 176–204. Bantu Studies (now African Studies) and Africa published articles in the fields of anthropology, history, sociology, geography, and literary and cultural studies.

40.

Nikolaus Pevsner, introduction to Kuper, “The Architecture of Swaziland,” 21.

41.

Kuper, “The Architecture of Swaziland,” 24.

42.

Pevsner, introduction to Kuper, “The Architecture of Swaziland,” 21. Shortly before Kuper’s article appeared, the Architectural Review published two short essays on African topics: one about Egyptian mud cotes for pigeons along the Nile (“Bridegroom’s Dowry,” Architectural Review 99, no. 590 [Feb. 1946], 60–61) and one on a fortified Berber granary called ksour in Nalut, Tripolitania (“Surrealist City,” Architectural Review 99, no. 592 [Apr. 1946], 125).

43.

At the beginning of the twentieth century, a new cultural relativism based on interracial relations developed in Britain among liberals. The aftermath of World War I saw a gradual increase in the awareness of race relations connected to Britain’s declining position as a world power. Similarly, a growing interest in the immigrants coming to Britain from Africa marked the emergence of a new field of political debate. Paul B. Rich, Race and Empire in British Politics (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1986), 169–200.

44.

Pevsner, introduction to Kuper, “The Architecture of Swaziland,” 21.

45.

Ibid.

46.

Ibid.

47.

In the 1940s Pevsner became concerned about the social role of art, architecture, and the artist in the mid-twentieth century and “how and why the artist has become so painfully severed from his public.” Accordingly, he promoted the notion of the “social history of art,” based on the “changing relations between the artist and the world surrounding him.” Nikolaus Pevsner, Academies of Art: Past and Present (1940; repr., New York: Da Capo Press, 1973), vii, viii. See Ute Engel, “The Formation of Pevsner’s Art History: Nikolaus Pevsner in Germany, 1902–1935,” in Draper, Reassessing Nikolaus Pevsner, 29–50.

48.

The workers’ compound was imported to South Africa from Brazil. Clive M. Chipkin, “Preparing for Apartheid, Pretoria and Johannesburg,” in Architecture of the Transvaal, ed. Roger C. Fisher, Schalk le Roux, and Estelle Maré (Pretoria: University of South Africa, 1998), 149–76; Chipkin, Johannesburg Style, 199.

49.

For a description of a “temporary segregation camp,” Klipspruit, southwest of Johannesburg, see Chipkin, Johannesburg Style, 197–98.

50.

For a chronology of the townships’ establishment, see Chipkin, Johannesburg Style, 195–219.

51.

On migrancy in twentieth-century South Africa, see Max Yergan, “The Status of Natives in South Africa,” Journal of Negro History 24, no. 1 (Jan. 1939), 44–56; Peter Delius, Laura Phillips, and Fiona Rankin-Smith, eds., A Long Way Home: Migrant Worker Worlds, 1800–2014 (Johannesburg: Wits University Press, 2014).

52.

“Native Housing,” Architectural Review, 108.

53.

Connell later joined the National Building Research Institute and became head of its architectural division. Chipkin, “Preparing for Apartheid,” 165.

54.

P. H. Connell, C. Irvine-Smith, K. Jonas, R. Kantorowich, and F. J. Wepener, Native Housing (Johannesburg: Witwatersrand University Press, 1939).

55.

Paul H. Connell, “Native Housing and Its Architectural Aspects,” South African Architectural Record 32, no. 6 (June 1947), 166–70.

56.

Paul H. Connell, Sub-economic Housing Practice in South Africa (Pretoria: CSIR National Building Research Institute, 1947), 48, quoted in Chipkin, “Preparing for Apartheid,” 165.

57.

Connell, “Native Housing and Its Architectural Aspects,” 169.

58.

Pevsner traveled to South Africa twice: in 1952, when John Fassler hosted him, and in 1961, when he was Heather Martienssen’s guest. Nikolaus Pevsner, foreword to Art and Articles: In Honour of Heather Martienssen, by Heather Martienssen, ed. Frieda Harmsen (Cape Town: A. A. Balkema, 1973), 1.

59.

Nikolaus Pevsner, “Johannesburg: The Development of a Contemporary Vernacular in the Transvaal,” Architectural Review 113, no. 678 (June 1953), 381.

60.

Ibid.

61.

Connell, “Native Housing and Its Architectural Aspects,” 169.

62.

Pevsner, “Johannesburg,” 381.

63.

Connell, “Native Housing and Its Architectural Aspects,” 169.

64.

Ibid.

65.

Ibid., 168.

66.

Ibid.

67.

Spence, “Native Architecture,” 390.

68.

Connell, “Native Housing and Its Architectural Aspects,” 168.

69.

Ibid., 169.

70.

Ibid., 170.

71.

On Eaton’s life and work, see, for example, Clinton Harrop-Allin, Norman Eaton, Architect: A Study of the Work of the South African Architect Norman Eaton 1902–1966 (Cape Town: Struik, 1975); Roger C. Fisher, “Norman Eaton—Some Influences on His Insights,” South African Journal of Cultural History 11, no. 2 (Nov. 1997), 68–83.

72.

Chipkin, Johannesburg Style, 178, 278. The South African architect Adriaan Louw Meiring described Eaton as “our city and our country’s … finest architect.” Adriaan Louw Meiring, “Norman Eaton Was the Finest Architect in the Country,” Pretoriana 52 (Dec. 1966), 50–53.

73.

See Norman Eaton, “Aims and Procedures in the Preservation and Restoration of Historical Buildings,” South African Architectural Record 45, no. 4 (Apr. 1960), 17–24; Norman Eaton, “The Architect Today,” South African Architectural Record 49, no. 6 (June 1964), 52–57. Pretoria, separated from Johannesburg by 35 miles of undulating veld, offered an environment that was very different from that of Johannesburg. On Pretoria and its development, see Chipkin, “Preparing for Apartheid,” 149.

74.

Norman Eaton, “Native Art and Architecture” (unpublished manuscript, 1953), http://www.artefacts.co.za/main/Buildings/articles.php?artid=372 (accessed 31 May 2015).

75.

Ibid.

76.

Harrop-Allin, Norman Eaton, Architect, 70.

77.

Ibid.; Chipkin, Johannesburg Style, 287, 291.

78.

Eaton, “Native Art and Architecture.”

79.

“It is my constant hope that the outcome of all the present financial difficulties in providing this [urban] accommodation [for the indigenous population] in a European way will be that the innate capacities of the Native … will be used in such a manner as to recreate the qualities of living he has so gracefully achieved in the outlying areas in the past.” Eaton, “Native Art and Architecture.”

80.

Fisher, “Norman Eaton,” 68. For a discussion of Eaton’s regionalism, see also Herbert, Martienssen and the International Style, 166–67.

81.

Chipkin, Johannesburg Style, 287–88.

82.

For more detailed descriptions of the main building, see Harrop-Allin, Norman Eaton, Architect, 72–77; Chipkin, Johannesburg Style, 288–89.

83.

Pevsner, “Johannesburg,” 364.

84.

Harrop-Allin, Norman Eaton, Architect, 72–73.

85.

Norman M. Eaton, “Art in Architecture,” Fontein 1, no. 1 (1960), 17.

86.

Herbert, Martienssen and the International Style, 88–89.

87.

This project was designed and built between 1955 and 1960. Running close to Pretorius Street underneath the Wachthuis Building, Polly’s Arcade is part of an integrated system of walkways covering the eastern edge of Church Square in the historic city center of Pretoria. Harrop-Allin, Norman Eaton, Architect, 99–104; Chipkin, Johannesburg Style, 291.

88.

Fisher, “Norman Eaton,” 79.

89.

Sabine Marschall, “The Search for Essence: ‘Africanness’ in 20th Century South African Architecture,” Southern African Humanities 13 (Dec. 2001), 142.

90.

The Ndabakazi field research was sponsored by the National Union of South African Students and conducted by an interdisciplinary team of university students. It was directed by four lecturers of the University of the Witwatersrand: Phillip Tobias, later a renowned paleoanthropologist; Sydney Brenner, a geneticist and Nobel Prize winner deeply involved with Tobias in the antiapartheid movement; Sam Holman, a physician; and Gilbert Herbert. On Sydney Brenner’s career at the University of the Witwatersrand, see Phillip Tobias, “Sydney Brenner: Student Years at Witwatersrand,” Scientist, no. 6 (18 Mar. 2002), 17.

91.

Gilbert Herbert, “Rural Native Housing at Ndabakazi: A Report,” South African Architectural Record 34, no.1 (Jan. 1949), 13–19.

92.

Ibid., 14.

93.

“Architecture from 1700 to 1930,” 95.

94.

Herbert, “Rural Native Housing at Ndabakazi,” 18.

95.

Ibid., 19.

96.

See Clive M. Chipkin, Johannesburg Transition: Architecture and Society from 1950 (Johannesburg: STE, 2008), 121–26; Chipkin, “Preparing for Apartheid.”

97.

Union of South Africa, Report of the Natives Land Commission, vol. 1, U.G. 19 (Pretoria: Government Printer, 1916), 3.

98.

“Native Housing,” Architectural Review, 107.

99.

South African industrialization and urbanization were heavily based on migrant labor. See Peter Delius and Laura Phillips, “Introduction,” in Delius et al., A Long Way Home, 2–16; Sekibakiba Peter Lekgoathi, “Migrants from Zebediela and Shifting Identities on the Rand, 1930s–1970s,” in Delius et al., A Long Way Home, 155–68.

100.

Peter Delius, A Lion amongst the Cattle: Reconstruction and Resistance in the Northern Transvaal (Johannesburg: Ravan Press, 1996), 23.

101.

On the notion and composition of traditional family in Africa, see Ambe J. Njoh, Tradition, Culture and Development in Africa: Historical Lessons for Modern Development Planning (Aldershot, England: Ashgate, 2006), 51–68.

102.

See, for example, Benedict Carton, “The Migrant King of Zululand,” in Delius et al., A Long Way Home, 74–88.

103.

Spence, “Native Architecture,” 391.

104.

Betty Spence and Barrie Biermann, “M’pogga,” Architectural Review 116, no. 691 (July 1954), 35–40; Adriaan Louw Meiring, “The Amandebele of Pretoria,” South African Architectural Record 40, no. 4 (Apr. 1955), 26–35. Meiring, an architect and head of the School of Architecture at Pretoria University, had studied the art and architecture of the Ndebele for many years. He was the first to photograph “Ndebele-style” wall paintings and buildings during the late 1940s. Ivor Powell, Mark Lewis, and Mark Hurwitz, Ndebele: A People and Their Art (Cape Town: Struik, 1995), 46.

105.

On the history, art, and architecture of the Ndebele, see Powell et al., Ndebele; Elizabeth Ann Schneider, “Art and Communication: Ndzundza Ndebele Wall Decorations in the Transvaal,” in African Art in Southern Africa: From Tradition to Township, ed. Anitra Nettleton and David Hammond-Tooke (Johannesburg: Ad. Donker, 1989), 103–22.

106.

Meiring, “The Amandebele of Pretoria,” 34.

107.

Spence and Biermann, “M’pogga,” 40.

108.

Ibid.

109.

Ibid.

110.

On the Difaqane, see Maylam, History of the African People of South Africa, 54–63.

111.

Spence and Biermann, “M’pogga,” 36.

112.

Ibid. See also ibid., 40; Meiring, “The Amandebele of Pretoria,” 26.

113.

Spence and Biermann, “M’pogga,” 40. They went on to say, “The days of the M’Pogga and their buildings are drawing to a close.”