Snippets from the north: Architects in Durban and their response to identity, common culture and resistance in the 1930s
Previously colonized by both Holland and Britain, South Africans have always borrowed; many taking aesthetic clues from memories of ‘home’. Applied seemingly irrelevantly, these ‘clues’ often border on the pastiche. Pre and post Union in 1910, the British-controlled colonies of Natal and the Cape absorbed imported architectural influences which not only introduced an Arts and Crafts layer to Victorian Gothic and Classical revivals, but introduced vital new ideas, namely Art Deco and Modernism.
Somehow this polemic embraced another revival: a melange of Tudor and Elizabethan focusing on detail, craftsmanship and nostalgia. The ‘Tudorbethan’ Revival occurred at a vital point in the inter-war era, and it is contended that this style demonstrated a calculated resistance to the hybrid ‘Union Period’ architecture and its political role in forging a common diasporic identity and culture in the 1930s, rather than a mere application of fashion.
This paper situates the Tudorbethan Revival within contemporary architectural themes in Durban, South Africa, and contextualises the socio-political production of buildings between the wars before examining the works of architects who conceived this well-crafted, nostalgic and irrelevant architecture. It concludes by comparing this complex aesthetic with the contemporary architectural thread of ‘Gwelo’ Goodman’s Cape Dutch Revival suggesting the degree to which domestic architecture is able to support political positions in contested societies.
Bender, B. (1998) Stonehenge- Making space. Oxford: Berg Publishers
Betjeman,J. (1933) Ghastly Good Taste. London: Chapman and Hall
Bohlin,A. (2001) Places of Longing and belonging. Memories of the Group Area Proclamation of a South African Fishing Village. In Contested Landscapes: Movement, Exile and Place, edited by B.Bender & M.Winer. Oxford: Berg Publishers
Judge, R. (1991) May day and Merrie England. In Folklore Vol 102:ii pp131-148. https://doi.org/10.1080/0015587X.1991.9715815
Lowenthal, D. (1989) Nostalgia tells it like it wasn’t. In The Imagined past: history and nostalgia, edited by C.Shaw & M.Chase. Manchester: Manchester University Press.
Kearney, B. (1984) A Revised listing of the important places and buildings in Durban. Durban: City Council of Durban
Newton-Thompson, Joyce. (1951) .Gwelo Goodman: South African artist. Cape Town: Allen & Unwin
Peters, W. (1981) Alan Woodrow. In Human Sciences Research Council. Dictionary of South African biography. Durban : Butterworth Press
Radford, D. (2002) A guide to the architecture of Durban and Pietermaritzburg. Cape Town: David Philip Publishers
Rowlands M, (2007) Entangled Memories and Parallel Heritages in Mali. In Reclaiming Heritage- Alternative imaginaries of memory in West Africa, edited by F.De Jong & M.Rowlands. Walnut Creek. West Coast Press
Saunders: C. (2007) The history of the Tongaat and Hulett Sugar Companies. Durban: Tongaat Hulett Pty.Ltd.
Shaw,C. & Chase,M. (1989) The Imagined Past: History and Nostalgia. Manchester: Manchester University Press.
Scott, D. (1994) Communal space construction: the rise and fall of Clairwood and district. University of Natal: unpublished PhD dissertation.
Thompson,P. (1999) The British Civic Culture of Natal South Africa 1902-1961. Howick: Brevitas Press.
Watson, R. (1960) Tongaati: An African Experiment. London: Hutchinson
Woodrow, A. Collected papers, Killie Campbell Collections, Durban MSWOO
Yarwood, D. (1963) The architecture of England from prehistoric times to the present day. London: Batsford
Metrics powered by PLOS ALM
- There are currently no refbacks.
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License
Universitat Politècnica de València
e-ISSN: 2444-9091 http://dx.doi.org/10.4995/vitruvio