Monday, April 14, 2008

South African Architecture

Today I'd like to brag with some photos I took of architectural styles found in our country - not necessarily typically South African, but nonetheless unique.

This is a photo of the historical buildings at the Moffat Mission Station outside Kuruman (in the Kalahari region of the Northern Cape). The station's first missionary, Robert Moffat, lived here for 50 years (1820-1870). He used his own printing press (displayed in the museum at the station) to print the first Bible in Africa, which he had translated into seTswana. For a short while, one of Moffat's colleagues (and eventually his son-in-law) was David Livingstone, the first European to "discover" the Victoria Falls.

This is a corbel hut (house) on a farm between Williston and Carnavon (also in the Northern Cape), which we, as a family, rented for an overnight stay (a self-catering unit). Originally, these circular stone huts with dome-shaped roofs were much smaller and only constructed of carefully packed stones (NO mortar was used), with a large, flat stone as roof. These were probably built to house herders looking after stock, whilst away from their traditional villages. This style was eventually copied by farmers, who "improved" the original style. [This style of building should not be confused with the term "corbel" in architecture = a piece of stone jutting out out of a wall to carry a "tassel"].

These 2 photos show how the interior is decorated in the corbel hut, in which we stayed.

What I remember most about our visit is how clear the magnificently star-studded sky was that night - just as I remember from my childhood whilst growing up on a mission station, Bethanie (in the Free State Province).

The "mountain" on this photo is Spitskop, the landmark of Bethanie (as seen from the N1 - national road, in the Edenburg-Reddersburg district).

What about living in a typical Zulu beehive hut? Although this photo was taken in the garden at the Voortrekker Monument (in Pretoria), there are cultural villages in our country specifically designed to "house" tourists in traditionally styled huts - very hotel-like on the inside, but otherwise offering an insight into a traditional lifestyle.

The oldest European building on the African Continent south of the Equator, is "The Castle" (in Cape Town). This photo depicts the recently renovated "Bakhuis"-courtyard and Dolphin pool inside the walls of this five-pointed fort. It was constructed by the Dutch, who initiated settlement at the Cape by way of establishing a "half-way" station here. In contrast to the Portuguese explorers, who were the first to ever round the Cape in their search of a trade route to the riches of the East, the Dutch East India Company (or VOC - Verenigde Oostindische Compagnie) were keen to command the lucrative trade route. Their original four-pointed earthen-walled fort could not withstand the wet Cape winters, so the foundations for a more solid fortification (against possible invaders - local and European) were laid in 1666. Once completed, it was named "The Castle" ("Kasteel" in Dutch or Afrikaans) or "kui keip" (stone kraal) by the local Khoi (Hottentot) herders.

Originally, the area within the castle was one large courtyard. In 1691, this was devided by a cross-wall called "Kat" (a Dutch term for a wall on which cannons could be placed for defence purposes). The balcony on the photo (with Devil's Peak in the background) is attributed to a (well-known) French architect, Captain Louis Thibault.

Would you be interested in my photos with higher resolution (the original photos)? Please comment (click on comments below).
I'm busy researching if it's viable to create another blog, from which my high resolution photos can be downloaded.

1 comment:

Tim Cray said...

Nice post , I really like it.
Stock images