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FAGAN, Gabriël Theron (Gawie)

Born: 1925 11 15
Died: 2020 09 13


Reg No: 1400
Year registered: 1952

BArch 1952 (Pretoria)

Born in the Cape Peninsula; grew up with a love of the sea, sailing, and the Cape architectural heritage. Twelve years as chief architect for a commercial bank with countrywide coverage aroused a strong interest in subtle regional differences. The Cape Town practice started in 1963 has always included much conservation, often in country villages. This has developed an intimate understanding of the beautiful vernacular architecture, so that lessons about sense of belonging, structural integrity, plasticity, proportion and scale are inherently part of new work, without being conscious references.

He practices under the name of GABRIËL FAGAN ARCHITECTS.

[UIA Issue 8, 1985]

FAGAN, Gabriel Theron, B.Arch. (Pta); Architect; Own practice, C.T.; Architect in Charge, Volkskas Bank, Pta. 1952 - 63; Awards: Cape Provincial Inst. of Architects' Awards of Merit, 1968, 1971, 1975, 1979, 1985, Cape Times' Centenary Award 1983, S.A. Academy of Science & Arts' Gold Medal, Simon v.d. Stel Foundation's Gold Medal, National Monuments Ccl.'s Gold Medal, Award of Merit from I.S.A.A. 1987, Gold Medal 1988; Co-Author "Church Street in the Land of Waveren"; Author: monthly column in Die Burger under the pseudonym "Argibel", regular articles in the Conservation Journal Restorica; A.R.I.B.A.; b. 15 Nov 1925, C.T.; s.o. Henry Allan Fagan and Jessie Fagan born Theron; m. 17 Dec. 1949, Gwendoline Elizabeth Gannon, 1s. 3d.; Educ.: Jan van Riebeeck; Rec.: sailing, flying, photography.

[Ref: Hayes, S.V. 1989. (ed) Who's Who of Southern Africa 1989 - 90. Who's Who of Southern Africa cc. Johannesburg. pg 216. Submitted by William MARTINSON]

Gawie is married to Gwen FAGAN. Their son, Henry FAGAN, is an engineer.

Gawie FAGAN was the Sophia Gray Laureate in 1991 and the Milde McWilliams Memorial Lecture Laureate in 2012.

He was invited to participate in the 50 year Anniversary of the University of Pretoria School of Architecture Alumni Exhibition held at the Pretoria Art Gallery on 7-25 July 1993.

Resident Architect Volkskas Bank, 1952 – 1963.
Responsible for maintenance and recycling of their buildings throughout South Africa, and designed 50 new banks during this period.
Private practice in Cape Town since 1964.
Part time lecturer in design - University of Cape Town, 1970 - 1972.
Monthly columnist on architecture for the Cape Town daily paper, "Die Burger" October 1984 – June 1987.
Co-author of the book "Church Street in the Land of Waveren" which records the restoration of Tulbagh – 1974 after the 1969 earthquake.
Photographer for book "Roses at the Cape of Good Hope" by Gwen Fagan – first published 1988, reprinted 1989 & 1995.
Author of the book "Twenty Cape Houses", first published 2005.
Author of book "Brakdak: Flatroofs in the Karoo", first published 2008.
Foundation and Honorary life member Vernacular Architecture Society.
Member of the Architectural Heritage Committee, South African Institute of Architects 1982 - 2007.
Member of the Council for the Environment 1982 - 1994.
Lecturer at the V&A symposium on Identity and Sustainability in London, November 2009.

Member of the board of trustees of:
Bo-Kaap Trust from 1990 - 1994
Cape Town Heritage Trust from 1988
Groot Constantia Trust – board member and honorary member from 2002
Simon van der Stel Foundation, life member

Special Awards:
1991 Fulton Award: Klein Constantia: New Maturation Cellar, Constantia Valley, Cape Town
1993 Fulton Award: Environmental Sculpture, Cape Point Entrance Gate
2000 Laureatus Award Alumni Board University of Pretoria
2008 Hon. Fellow of the American Institute of Architects
2010 City of Cape Town Civic Honours

Energy Effective Design:
1990 ESKOM Energy Effective Design Award for Klein Constantia New Wine Cellar

Awards for Conservation Work:
1979 Cape Times Centenary Award
1982 Tony Williams-Short Award
1984 Cape Tercentenary Foundation Award
2007 The CAPTRUST Award for Environmental Achievement

1982 Winner of Trans Atlantic Cape to Punta del Este yacht race
1982 The South African Sport Merit Award: Navigation
2003 Winner Transatlantic Yacht Race to Bahia in his class, 3rd overall

Gold Medal Awards:
1973 Gold medal with G E Fagan from the National Monuments Council
1975 Gold medal from the South African Academy for Literature and Science
1982 Gold medal from the Simon van der Stel Foundation
1988 Gold medal of Honour from the South African Institute of Architects
1989 The Order for Meritorious Service: Gold (State President's Award)
2000 Cape Tercentenary Foundation: Molteno Medal
2003 Chancellor's Award, University of Pretoria

Honorary Doctorate Awards:
1991 D ARCH (HC) University of the Orange Free State
1993 D Phil (HC) University of Stellenbosch

Successful agitations for city improvements

Critical input regarding city engineer Dr.Morris's proposed freeways and parking garage in a sensitive part of the city which would have involved extensive demolition of heritage buildings.

Agitation in the media and by public meetings that the sea should be given back to Capetonians: February 1980. This led to the appointment of the Burggraaff Commission and the subsequent establishment of the V&A.

See the Fagan Collection on UP Space.


Letter to CIfA members. 2020 09 14

It is with immense sadness that I share the news of the passing of Gabriel Theron (Gawie) Fagan with you.

Gawie was in his own bed which he made as a student, in his bedroom filled with the books of knowledge that informed his work, surrounded by the objects and the people who gave meaning to his life, in "Die Es", the house which he designed and crafted with the help of his family.

Gwen, his great love, who had been his companion and support throughout their long and fulfilling life together, tenderly cared for him during the past few difficult months.

In the days, weeks and months to come we will find embracing ways to celebrate his life and work, but for now our thoughts are with Gwen, their children, grandchildren and great grandchildren.

He was an inspiration to us all; a great man who lived a life of integrity, adventure, peace and humility and who had the greatest respect for all and everything. May he now also rest in peace.

Henk Lourens 2020 09 14


OBITUARY: GABRIEL THERON (GAWIE) FAGAN 15.11.1925 - 13.09.2020

It is with deep sadness that SAIA informs you about the passing of a member, icon and star-architect, Gawie Fagan. Dr Fagan made a tremendous contribution to the architectural industry and his work speaks for itself. CifA, a region of SAIA, sent out a newsflash on Monday, 14 September 2020 giving notice of the passing of Gawie Fagan.

Also, SAIA shares an obituary by Arthur Barker, as well as another co-authored by Martin Burger and Henk Lourens [see links to obituaries below] which was published in Die Burger and News24.

SAIA has also received a collection of letters written in 2007 motivating for Gawie to be awarded Fellowship with the American Institute of Architects (AIA). SAIA wishes to thank ex-SA architect, Mr Etienne Louw who now resides in northern California USA for sharing these letters which speak volumes to the fine architect and achiever that Gawie was throughout his life. Included in the collection is a synopsis of Gawie Fagan - An Appreciation by Peter Buchanan which was published in Architecture South Africa - March/April 2006 issue.

Letter 1 by Tod Williams
Letter 2 by Kenneth Frampton
Letter 3 by Peter Rich Architects
Letter 4 by Adele Naude Santos
Synopsis of Gabriel Fagan: An Appreciation
[see links to letters below]

Although Gawie may no longer be with us, his work will continue to inspire many and live on forever.

Rest in Peace Gawie.

Kind regards

Mthembeni Mkhize
SAIA Chief Executive Officer


Obituary by Martin Kruger and Henk Lourens
Submitted by Paul Kotze

Obituary by Arthur Barker


Documents for Honorary Membership to American Institute of Architects
All submitted by Etiene Louw
Summary by Adèle Naudé Santos
Synopsis by Peter Buchanan
Recommendation by Kenneth Frampton
Recommendation by Peter Rich
Letter of Support by Tod Williams

Please Contact Artefacts if you come across any broken links on this page.

These notes were last edited on 2020 09 16

Articles citing FAGAN

Barker, A. 2010. Heterotrophic syntheses: mediation in the domestic architecture of Gabriël Fagan. South African Journal of Art History. Volume 25 Number 1

MEINTJES, Clyde. 2005. A tribute to Gabriel Fagan - on the occasion of his eightieth birthday, 15th November, 2005. Unpublished

Barker, Arthur. 2012. Cape vernacular interpretations. Architecture South Africa. Sept/Oct No 57 36-44

Barker, Arthur. 2012. Typological form in the architecture of Gabriël (Gawie) Fagan (1925-). South African Journal of Art History. Vol 27 No. 3

Barker, Arthur. 2013. Craft and intellect: materiality in the domestic architecture of Gawie Fagan. South African Journal of Art History. Vol 28 No. 2

Barker, Arthur. 2014. Fagan and the vernacular. Vernacular Society of South Africa journal

Books by FAGAN

Fagan, Gawie & Fagan, Gwen. 1975. Church Street in the Land of Waveren. Cape Town: Tulbagh Restoration Committee

Hefer, Willem J; Du Toit, CJ; Fagan, Gawie & Fagan, Gwen. 1976. Drakenstein : a valley with a place in history. South Africa: Rhodes Fruit Farms Ltd.?

Fagan, Gawie & Fagan, Gwen. 1977. Boschendal renascent : a history of Boschendal. South Africa:

Fagan, G. 2005. Twenty Cape Houses. Cape Town: Breestraat Publikasies

Fagan, Gawie & Fagan, Gwen. 2008. Brakdak : platdakke in die Karoo. Cape Town: Breestraat Publikasies

Books citing FAGAN

Anonymous. 2005. In honour of Gawie Fagan : in celebration of his 80th birthday. Cape Town: Vernacular Architecture Society of South Africa. pp All

Bakker, Karel A, Clarke, Nicholas J. 2014. Eclectic ZA Wilhelmiens : A shared Dutch built heritage in South Africa. Pretoria: Visual Books. pp 63

Beck, Haig (Editor). 1985. UIA International Architect : Southern Africa (Issue 8). London: International Architect. pp Inner front cover, 48-49

Department of Nature and Environmental conservation of the Provincial Administration of the Cape of Good Hope. 1984. Post Office Tree Provincial Museum Complex Mossel Bay. Cape Town: Department of Nature and Environmental conservation of the Provincial Administration of the Cape of Good Hope. pp All

Fagan, Gwen. 2016. Gwendoline's Gawie. Cape Town: Breestraat Publiekasies. pp All

Picton-Seymour, Désirée. 1989. Historical Buildings in South Africa. Cape Town: Struikhof Publishers. pp 76

Walker, Michael. 2010. Simon's Town : An historical review with early postcard illustrations. Cape Town: Michael Walker. pp 38

Chapters in books by FAGAN

Fagan, Gabriël. Gabriël Fagan. Architect's House, Camps Bay, Cape Town: in 1985. UIA International Architect : Southern Africa (Issue 8): pp 48

Chapters in books citing FAGAN

Silverman, Melinda. 'Ons bou vir die bank': Nationalism, architecture and Volkskas Bank: in 1998. blank______ Architecture, apartheid and after: pp 129

Fisher, Roger C. The Third Vernacular: Pretoria Regionalism — Aspects of an Emergence: in 1998. Architecture of the Transvaal: pp 123