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CALDERWOOD, Douglas McGavin

Born: 1919 03 29
Died: 2009 06 25

Architect

SACA:
Reg No: 882
Year registered: 1944

DipArch (Witwatersrand); BArch (Witwatersrand) (1943); Dipl Town Planning (Witwatersrand); MArch (Witwatersrand) (1952); DArch (Witwatersrand) (1954).

TPIA (1944); ISAA (1944); MIA, ARIBA; AM(SA)TPI; AMTPI.

He was born in Johannesburg, the son of DY Calderwood, mine manager of the New Kleinfontein Gold Mining Company. Educated at King Edward VII School. His architectural studies were done at the University of the Witwatersrand. Thereafter he attended Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) on a foreign student’s scholarship. On his return he was appointed Chief Research Officer, National Building Research Institute (NBRI) of SA Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) whereafter he became Head of the Architectural Division. Among those recruited to the NBRI to work alongside on the housing research programme was PH CONNELL (a graduate from the University of the Witwatersrand). Calderwood thesis was published in 1953 with funding from the CSRI. This focussed on the prevailing issue at that time: how to implement the new (1948) Nationalist government's post-Second World War township building programme and minimise costs. In the service of the CSIR, as a state-funded instrument for researching of the so-called ‘Native Housing problem’, Calderwood was charged with drawing up national standards for state funded housing while minimising cost. In his commendation of Calderwood's thesis, William HOLFORD, then Professor of Town Planning at the University of London, describes the work as 'a breath of fresh air' because it shows that 'the technical, the social and the economics of housing must be looked at together'. Calderwood designed three housing types designated NE 51/6, NE 51/8 and NE 51/9 (where acronym ‘NE’ is non-European dated 1951 types 6, 7 and 9). While Calderwood stressed that these were intended as a demonstration of the outcome to the rational design process, they were nevertheless taken up by government and housing authorities to be reproduced in the thousands across South African for three decades from the 1950s. [Commentary precised from HAARHOFF, 2010 (See Appropriating Modernism: Apartheid and the South African township.)]

Calderwood served as President of the Transvaal Provincial Institute of Architects for the term 1957/58.

Calderwood was working at the National Building Research Institute when University of the Witwatersrand invited him to manage the new Building Science course there in 1967. Calderwood overhauled the curriculum and improved its relevance. It was his subject, industrial organisation and management, rooted in Calderwood's father's mine management techniques, that characterized the whole building degree. In the course the importance of human relations in the building industry - welfare, incentives, conflict management, even body language, were taught.

He married Pauline Pearson of Port Elizabeth in 1949 by who he had two sons.

In 1959 his address was 433, Mackenzie Street, Menlo Park, Pretoria.

Obituary:

The iconic former Chair of Building Science at Wits, Prof. Douglas McGavin Calderwood (BArch 1943, MArch 1952, DArch 1954), died of pneumonia on 25 June 2009, aged 90. He was born on 29 March 1919, the son of a Scottish mining engineer. Calderwood was working at the National Building Research Institute when Wits invited him to manage the new building science course in 1967. Frank Wright (BSc 1968) recalls the professor's mandate to make something of a motley bunch of students who were neither architecture fish nor quantity surveying fowl. Calderwood overhauled the curriculum and improved its relevance. It was Prof's subject, industrial organisation and management that was the golden thread of the whole building degree. Rooted in Calderwood's father's mine management techniques, the course stressed the importance of human relations in the building industry. Welfare, incentives, conflict management, even body language, were taught [to emphasise] that people mattered first, says Wright. Calderwood sincerely cared about each of his students. Alumni recall how he delighted in trundling them in a wheelbarrow from the Great Hall after graduation with cardboard signs around their necks; the post-graduation dinners he hosted; that pipe! and the way he said words like "mimi" skirts and "mininim" and wits not vits. In May 2009, alumni hosted a party for Calderwood at Hofmeyr House, likened to a gathering of the chieftains [returning] to pay their respects. He died the following month.

(University of the Witwatersrand website, accessed 2015 03 30)