Share this record

Contact Artefacts
please if you have any comments or more information regarding this record.



List of Projects

FASSLER, John

Born: 1910 04 21
Died: 1971 06 18

Architect

SACA:
Reg No: 563
Year registered: 1933

Professor of Architecture at the University of the Witwatersrand where he succeeded GE PEARSE in 1948, Fassler had a profound commitment to the art of architecture, qualifying his responses to changing architectural trends, which, in the eyes of some of his contemporaries made him appear reactionary at times. He was born in Potchefstroom of Swiss parents, and was educated at Forest High School in Johannesburg. He studied architecture at the University of the Witwatersrand from 1928 to 1932 and was awarded the Burton Prize for Best Student. In March 1933 he graduated with a Degree of Bachelor of Architecture, with distinction. He and BS COOKE were the first two students to graduate with distinction since the establishment of the School in 1921. Professor PEARSE influenced Fassler, first as a teacher and then as a colleague. A number of drawings by Fassler were used by Pearse to illustrate Eighteenth century architecture in South Africa (1933). Fassler worked in close association with Pearse in the University on designs for several buildings including the Escom building. As a student he was also a member of the Alpha Club.

On graduating Fassler undertook private work before entering into association with Martienssen and Cooke. Among his projects was House Swemmer 'a compactly planned two-bedroomed house, with strong horizontal lines, a flat roof silhouette achieved by masking a single-pitched roof behind a parapet ... an interesting relationship of internal spaces to external' (Herbert 1975:109). A brief but important association between MARTIENSSEN, Fassler and Cooke took place between 1934 and 1936 (cf. MARTIENSSEN, FASSLER & COOKE); among the designs for which they were jointly responsible were those for Peterhouse (1934-1935) and House Stern (1934-5). The association gradually disintegrated since neither Martienssen nor Fassler were allowed to be full participants in a partnership on account of their University employment.

Fassler joined the staff of the School of Architecture, University of the Witwatersrand under Pearse in 1934, and remained there: lecturer, teacher and finally as professor. A memory recorded by the architect Issy BENJAMIN, then a student at the University under Fassler, gives an insight into Fassler's passion for architecture: 'And, then in my final year, I had one of the most marvellous experiences ... in my life. I wish to pay tribute to my old teacher, Professor Fassler. He used to be a very dry speaker ... it was a hot afternoon and he was talking about the history of architecture, and we were dealing with Egyptian architecture and I suddenly noticed that as he spoke about approaching up the avenue of sphinxes his hands were pressed together, finger-tip to finger-tip as he spoke about it, as he described going through the great entrance, through the narrow confined space, breaking out into the courtyard, I watched those fingertips getting whiter and whiter. And I knew that that man was moved beyond words and in that instant I received enlightenment. I learned everything about architecture that I have ever needed to know, the feeling of compression, of release, of light and shade, body experience, of moving through spaces, closed and open lived with me for the rest of my life, and I bless his name, every day' (Benjamin 1987:17-18). Fassler was appointed acting editor of the South African Architectural Record during Martienssen's absence in Paris and Greece in 1934.

Soon after joining the staff at the University Fassler developed a deep interest in modern art, garden design and town planning, the development of the latter being of considerable significance to town planning in South Africa. In 1936/1937 he visited Europe and met Le Corbusier in Paris in 1937. He revisited Europe after the war in 1946. The John Moffat Building for the Faculty of Architecture, designed by Fassler in the 1950s, is an example of his approach to modern architecture. He designed the Chemical Engineering Building at the University in association with NURCOMBE & SUMMERLEY and with WD HOWIE.

Fassler's interest in town planning prompted his founder membership of the South African Institute of Town Planners, and in 1945 the post-graduate diploma in town planning was introduced into the Faculty of Architecture with Fassler as course lecturer. His notes remain largely intact and provide evidence of his wide-ranging interests. He was elected chairman of the first committee of the South African Institute of Town Planners and was the first President of this Institute in 1956. He sat the British Town Planning Institute Examinations, passing with distinction. In 1958 he was elected an Associate of that Institute, and received the Town Planning award of the RIBA (n.d.). In 1965 a department of Town & Regional Planning was set up as well as the establishment of a department of Building Science, both within the Faculty of Architecture at the University of the Witwatersrand. Fassler retired from the Chair of Architecture in 1967, having been appointed by the University Council to plan the South Campus at Milner Park, together with the large multi-purpose building on that site. As outside interests he was a member of the Johannesburg Art Gallery Committee, and its vice chairman for a period. His dedication to the arts in South Africa led him to fill many roles in emerging arts societies and their committees. He was appointed to the art works selection committee for the Johannesburg Civic Centre; a member of the Johannesburg and Pretoria Arts Councils, of the South African Association of Arts and of the Johannesburg Historical Society, and he had a fine private collection of paintings.

Fassler has two daughters on this website, architect Mira FASSLER KAMSTRA and artist Stephanie FASSLER.

Fassler played an important role in the South African Academy [of Arts], representing the Institute of South African Architects on the Academy committee for the annual summer exhibition. The Institute appointed him to serve on the Town Planning Advisory Committee, Johannesburg City Council in 1954. He was at one time a member of the Central Council of the ISAA. Fassler died in Johannesburg.

On his retirement and in appreciation for the meritorious contribution Fassler had made, his friends and colleagues presented him with a circular silver bowl made by Gordon McINTOSH. The following dedication was inscribed around the outer perimeter of the inner face of the bowl:
JOHN FASSLER ••• IN APPRECIATION OF THE FORTY YEARS DEDICATED TO THE FURTHERANCE OF THE IDEALS OF ARCHITECTURE TOWN PLANNING EDUCATION AND THE ARTS IN SOUTH AFRICA FROM FRIENDS AND COLLEAGUES •••
•• MCMXXVIII : STUDENT : MCMXXXII : LECTURER : MCMXLVII : PROFESSOR : MCMLXVII ••

See also the 1952 Graduation photograph.

ARIBA 1945; Pres TPIA 1946; AMTPI; RIATPI (GB); SAITP. (Archt & Bldr Jul 1971:26,obit; Arch Rev Jun 1953:406-07; ARIBA nom papers (1945) 8535; Fassler Papers; Mrs John Fassler 1985; Fassler Kamstra 1985; Aneck Hahn 1984; Herbert 1975; ISAA mem list; Plan Sep 1971:14-20)

Publ:'Au Piano'by Gromaire, a critique, SAAR Jul 1934:174-5; House Swemmer, SAAR Jul 1934:188-9; Towards a standardisation of colour notation, SAAR Nov 1936:404-10; Escom House, SAAR Jun 193:245-60; Realising the abstract creation, SAAR Jul 1937: 314-23; Elements of the Garden, SAAR Nov 1937:509-20; Recent overseas domestic architecture, SAAR Mar 1938:78-81; Colour investigation, SAAR May 1938:151-54; The world of architecture, SAAR Jan 1939:18-27; The world of architecture, SAAR Apr 1939: 124-26; The Sunium Apollo, SAAR Nov 1939:485-91; Domestic architecture in South Africa from 1652 to 1930, SAAR Apr 1965:1-5 suppl.

All truncated references not fully cited in 'References' are those of Joanna Walker's original text and cited in full in the 'Bibliography' entry of the Lexicon.

Books citing FASSLER

Beck, Haig (Editor). 1985. UIA International Architect : Southern Africa (Issue 8). London: International Architect. pp 60

Greig, Doreen. 1971. A Guide to Architecture in South Africa. Cape Town: Howard Timmins. pp 153, 157

Pearse, Geoffrey Eastcott. 1960. Eighteenth century furniture in South Africa. Pretoria: Van Schaik. pp Plates: (Delt) 5, 6, 40, 47; (Mens) 1, 2, 17, 20, 21, 27, 28, 34, 37, 43, 44, 55, 56, 57

Pearse, Geoffrey Eastcott. 1957. Eighteenth century architecture in South Africa. London: Batsford. pp Plates 1, 3, 5, 6, 7, 8, 10, 11, 12, 15, 20 [b], 26, 27, 29, 31, 32, 34, 35, 37 [a], 39, 40, 41, 43, 45, 47, 48, 49, 51, 53, 57, 58, 59, 61, 63, 65 [b], 67, 71 [a], 79, 80 [b], 81 [b], 87 [b], 88, 89, 90, 95,98, 99 [b], 100, 101, 104, 110 [b], 112, 1

SAWW & Ken Donaldson (Pty) Ltd. 1958. South African Who's Who 1958 : An illustrated biographical sketch book of South Africans with separate sections for the Federation of Rhodesia and Nyasaland, and South West Africa. Johannesburg: Ken Donaldson (Pty) Ltd. pp 233

SAWW & Wooten & Gibson. 1963. Who's Who of Southern Africa 1963. Johannesburg: Wooten & Gibson (Pty) Ltd. pp 283

SAWW & Gibson, PJ (Managing Editor). 1965. Who's Who of southern Africa 1965. Johannesburg: Combined Publishers. pp 301

Chapters in books by FASSLER

Fassler, John. PEARSE, Geoffrey Eastcott: in 1973. Standard Encyclopaedia of South Africa [SESA] Volume 8 Mus-Pop: pp 485

Fassler, J. Plate 1. Map of the Cape in the XVIIIth Century: in 1957. Eighteenth century architecture in South Africa: pp 0

Fassler, J. Fig. 32. The dolphin fountain [delt]: in 1957. Eighteenth century architecture in South Africa: pp 37

Fassler, J. Plate 3. The Castle, Cape Town. Details of Kat Balcony [Drawn from measured drawings by FW Mullins and VS Rees Poole]: in 1957. Eighteenth century architecture in South Africa: pp 53

Fassler, J. Plate 5. The Castle, Cape Town. Kat Balcony, The entrance door to large hall [FW Mullins Mens et Delt Redrawn J Fassler]: in 1957. Eighteenth century architecture in South Africa: pp 55

Fassler, J. Plate 6. The Castle, Cape Town. Details of the Kat Balcony [Fassler Delt]: in 1957. Eighteenth century architecture in South Africa: pp 56

Fassler, J. Plate 7. The Castle, Cape Town. Details of a doorway (vide Plate 9) (Drawn by J Fassler from measured drawaings by F. W. Mullin & G. E. G. Leith): in 1957. Eighteenth century architecture in South Africa: pp 57

Fassler, J. Plate 8. The Castle, Cape Town. Details of door in inner court. (G. E. Pearse Mens. J. Fassler Delt): in 1957. Eighteenth century architecture in South Africa: pp 58

Fassler, J. Plate 10. The Castle, Cape Town. Door. Imhoff Battery. Now at Groote Schuur, Rondebosch [Drawn by J. Fassler from measured drawings by Fred W. Mullins]: in 1957. Eighteenth century architecture in South Africa: pp 60

Fassler, J. Plate 11. Government House, Cape Town. Detail of facade (1798) [Reconstructed from the sketch of Herman Schutte 1798 by D. H. Schutte 1910 J. Fassler Delt]: in 1957. Eighteenth century architecture in South Africa: pp 61

Fassler, J. Plate 12. Gates to Gardens, Cape Town (now demolished) (From measured drawings by D. P. Schutte J. Fassler Delt): in 1957. Eighteenth century architecture in South Africa: pp 62

Fassler, J. Plate 15. The Burgher Watch House, Cape Town. (From Measured Drawing by V. S. Rees Poole. J. Fassler Delt): in 1957. Eighteenth century architecture in South Africa: pp 65

Fassler, J. Plate 20. [b] House in Buitensingel, Cape Town (L. R. Bustin Mens J. Fassler Delt): in 1957. Eighteenth century architecture in South Africa: pp 70

Fassler, J. Plate 26. The Lutheran Parsonage, Cape Town. Entrance Door (vide Plate 24) (Drawn by J Fassler from Measured Drawings by F. W. Mullin): in 1957. Eighteenth century architecture in South Africa: pp 76

Fassler, J. Plate 27. Koopman de Wet House. Details of the Main Door (vide Plate 28) (Drawn by J. Fassler from measured drawings by F. M Glennie & V. S. Rees Poole): in 1957. Eighteenth century architecture in South Africa: pp 77

Fassler, J. Plate 29. Koopman de Wet House. Detail of Facade (From Measured Drawings by V. S. Rees Poole. J. Fassler Delt): in 1957. Eighteenth century architecture in South Africa: pp 79

Fassler, J. Plate 31. Rust-en-Vreugde, Cape Town. [Detail of Facade] (J. Fassler Delt From Measured drawings by V. S. Rees Poole, G. E. Gordon Leith, D. S. Haddon): in 1957. Eighteenth century architecture in South Africa: pp 81

Fassler, J. Plate 32. Rust-en-Vreugde, Cape Town. Detail of Door on First Floor Balcony. (J. Fassler Delt From Measured drawings by G. E. Gordon Leith, D. S. Haddon): in 1957. Eighteenth century architecture in South Africa: pp 82

Fassler, J. Plate 34. Rust-en-Vreugde, Cape Town. [Main Entrance Doorway] (J. Fassler Delt From Measured Drawings by V. S. Rees Poole): in 1957. Eighteenth century architecture in South Africa: pp 84

Fassler, J. Plate 35. [Rust-en-Vreugde, Cape Town. Detail of Main Entrance Door] (J. Fassler Delt From Measured Drawings by V. S. Rees Poole): in 1957. Eighteenth century architecture in South Africa: pp 85

Fassler, J. Plate 37. Alphen, Cape Town. The Entrance Door (D. H. Epstein mens, J. Fassler delt): in 1957. Eighteenth century architecture in South Africa: pp 87

Fassler, J. Plate 39. Groot Constantia. Front Elevation (Drawn by J. Fassler from Measured Drawing by Gordon Leith): in 1957. Eighteenth century architecture in South Africa: pp 89

Fassler, J. Plate 40. Groot Constantia. Side Elevation (Drawn by J. Fassler from Measured Drawing by Gordon Leith): in 1957. Eighteenth century architecture in South Africa: pp 90

Fassler, J. Plate 41. Groot Constantia. Window and Shutter Details (G. E. G. Leith mens. J. Fassler delt): in 1957. Eighteenth century architecture in South Africa: pp 91

Fassler, J. Plate 43. Groot Constantia. The Entrance Door. (W. G. MC Intosh Mens. J. Fassler Delt: in 1957. Eighteenth century architecture in South Africa: pp 93

Fassler, J. Plate 47. Groot Constantia. Wine Cellar. Details of Pediment and Entrance (From Measured Drawings by F. Glennie. J. Fassler delt): in 1957. Eighteenth century architecture in South Africa: pp 97

Fassler, J. Plate 48. Groot Constantia. Wine Cellar Details (From Measured Drawings by F. Glennie. J. Fassler delt): in 1957. Eighteenth century architecture in South Africa: pp 98

Fassler, J. Plate 49. Groot Constantia. Details of Wine Cellar [Joinery] (From Measured Drawings by F. Glennie. J. Fassler delt): in 1957. Eighteenth century architecture in South Africa: pp 99

Fassler, J. Plate 51. Groot Constantia. The Jonker's House, Elevation (W. G. Mc Intosh Mens. J. Fassler Delt): in 1957. Eighteenth century architecture in South Africa: pp 101

Fassler, J. Plate 53. Groot Constantia. Details of the Swimming Bath (Rene M Ellenberger Mens. J Fassler Delt): in 1957. Eighteenth century architecture in South Africa: pp 103

Fassler, J. Plate 57. Stellenberg. Elevation Details (Drawn by J. Fassler from Measured Drawings by V. S. Rees Poole.): in 1957. Eighteenth century architecture in South Africa: pp 107

Fassler, J. Plate 58. Stellenberg. Facade (Drawn by J. Fassler from Measured Drawings by N. M. Eaton.): in 1957. Eighteenth century architecture in South Africa: pp 108

Fassler, J. Plate 59. Stellenberg. Plaster Details (Drawn by J. Fassler from Measured Drawings by N. M. Eaton.): in 1957. Eighteenth century architecture in South Africa: pp 109

Fassler, J. Plate 61. Stellenberg. Joinery Details (Drawn by J. Fassler from Measured drawings by N. M. Eaton): in 1957. Eighteenth century architecture in South Africa: pp 111

Fassler, J. Plate 63. Stellenberg. Details of Metalwork (Drawn by J. Fassler from Measured drawings by N. M. Eaton): in 1957. Eighteenth century architecture in South Africa: pp 113

Fassler, J. Plate 65. [b] The Old Summer House, Groote Schuur, Rondebosch (J. Fassler delt. From Measured Drawings by Mr. H. Baker): in 1957. Eighteenth century architecture in South Africa: pp 115

Fassler, J. Plate 67. Rustenburg Gates. (J. Fassler Delt. C. W. Roxburgh Mens.): in 1957. Eighteenth century architecture in South Africa: pp 117

Fassler, J. Plate 71. [a] Meerlust. Pigeon House (R. D. Martienssen mens. J. Fassler Delt.): in 1957. Eighteenth century architecture in South Africa: pp 121

Fassler, J. Plate 79. Gables at Stellenbosch and Paarl (J. Fassler Delt. W. G. Mc Intosh Mens): in 1957. Eighteenth century architecture in South Africa: pp 129

Fassler, J. Plate 80. [b] Nooitgedacht, Bell Tower (D. M. Epstein Mens. J. Fassler Delt): in 1957. Eighteenth century architecture in South Africa: pp 130

Fassler, J. Plate 31. [b] Spier L: Outbuildings. Detail of Gable (C. W. Roxburgh mens. J. Fassler delt) : in 1957. Eighteenth century architecture in South Africa: pp 131

Fassler, J. Plate 87. [b] Uitkyk, Stellenbosch (B. Middleton Mens. J. Fassler Delt): in 1957. Eighteenth century architecture in South Africa: pp 137

Fassler, J. Plate 88. Rhone, Groot Drakenstein. Front Elevation (From Measured Drawings by C. J. Slade. J. Fassler delt): in 1957. Eighteenth century architecture in South Africa: pp 138

Fassler, J. Plate 89. Rhone, Groot Drakenstein. Plaster Details(J. Fassler delt. From Measured Drawings by C. J. Slade.): in 1957. Eighteenth century architecture in South Africa: pp 139

Fassler, J. Plate 90. Rhone, Groot Drakenstein. Joinery Details (From Measured Drawings by C. J. Slade. J. Fassler delt): in 1957. Eighteenth century architecture in South Africa: pp 140

Fassler, J. Plate 95. La Provence, French Hoek. Joinery Details (N. Hanson Mens. J. Fassler Delt): in 1957. Eighteenth century architecture in South Africa: pp 145

Fassler, J. Plate 98. Paarl Church. Front Elevation (W. G. Mc Intosh Mens. J. Fassler Delt): in 1957. Eighteenth century architecture in South Africa: pp 148

Fassler, J. Plate 99. [b] Paarl Church. The Bell Tower (W. G. Mc Intosh Mens. J. Fassler Delt): in 1957. Eighteenth century architecture in South Africa: pp 149

Fassler, J. Plate 100. The Old Parsonage, Paarl (vide Plate 96) (C. J. Slade Mens. J. Fassler Delt.): in 1957. Eighteenth century architecture in South Africa: pp 150

Fassler, J. Plate 104. Nederburg. Klein Drakenstain (G. E .Pearse [? Indistinct] Mens. J. Fassler [? Indistinct] Delt): in 1957. Eighteenth century architecture in South Africa: pp 154

Fassler, J. Plate 110. [b] Tulbagh Church. The Main Gable (Drawn by J. Fassler from Measured Drawings by E. A. Elsworth): in 1957. Eighteenth century architecture in South Africa: pp 160

Fassler, J. Plate 112. Internal doors and Details of Mouldings (J. Fassler Delt): in 1957. Eighteenth century architecture in South Africa: pp 162

Fassler, J. Plate 113. Escutcheon Plates (J. Fassler Delt): in 1957. Eighteenth century architecture in South Africa: pp 163

Chapters in books citing FASSLER

Various. A Biographical history: in 1985. UIA International Architect : Southern Africa (Issue 8): pp 58

Glennie, FM. Plate 45. Groot Constantia. The Wine Cellar (F. M. Glennie Mens et Delt 1912. Traced J Fassler): in 1957. Eighteenth century architecture in South Africa: pp 95

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