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SOUTH AFRICA
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                                        ARCHITECTURE

 

Diverse factors have influenced building styles in SA, climate, social structure and the economy. Years ago when some raw materials were unavailable, ingenious devices were thought of. Bardbiesbuisie (hard-reed house), a pitched roof shelter built on the ground and the beehive shaped huts, built of stone were used.

Most traditional houses often called Rondavels are round in shape with roofs of tightly woven reed or grass thatch, while the walls are made of mud mixed with cow dung or animal hide. These were well insulated and rain could not get in.

 

Zulu beehives

These are stick frameworks erected by the men and the women thatch them.

 

Matjishuise

These are made of mats by the Khoina nomads and are covered in hide or mats on a stick frame.

 

Ndebele homes

These are the most eyecatching style. The walls are rectangular structures and are painted by women using bright paints. No stencils are used for the motifs.

 

Cape Dutch

The vernacular of the western cape, recognized by its symentrical design and gables, evolved around the mid 18th century from a simple row of thatched rooms whose sizes depended on the length of the available beams. The forms of the gables were derved from the Baroque architecture of Holland. End gables prevented the roof from being torn off by high winds while the central gable let light into the attic.

 

Georgian

These had plain front pediments and flat roofs and survive along the narrow cobbled streets of Cape Towns Bo-Kaap or Malay quarter. The neighbourhood of artificers square in Grahamstown also has fine examples of the houses. These have many paned sliding sash windows, plain parpets and a fan light above the entrance.

 

Victorian

This romatic style with its decorative cast-iron detail, brass fittings and stained glass windows became extremely popular especially in Cape town. Here too terrace housing, pioneered in the 18th century provided affordable housing for the middle class. You can find examples of these in Woodstock, Observatory, Mowbray and Wynberg.