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House Stern
Lower Houghton, Johannesburg, Gauteng

Bernard Stanley COOKE: Design Architect
MARTIENSSEN, FASSLER and COOKE: Architect

Date:1934
Type:Homestead
Style:International Style
Status:Extant
Street:9th Avenue

House Stern explicitly shows the architectural programme of this partnership and also MARTIENSSEN's theoretical formulations, which had widespread influence. The independent planning of lower and upper floors is free from structural constraint. Functional zones are separated into spatial components, clearly visible as three-dimensional entities shaped as pure geometric forms. These are assembled in a dynamic balance about the vertical element, a staircase expressed as a cylinder. The composition is contrapuntal, with solid matched with void and inside space with outside. The internal spaces are discrete units, but radiate from the stair and stair hall. They were painted in strong Corbusian colours.

While a major element - the roof garden - proved inappropriate in the Transvaal climate, the building's resolution of complex sculptural form marks it as a major local interpretation of the International Style.

(Julian Cooke in UIA, 1985: 59)

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


Writings about this entry

Greig, Doreen. 1971. A Guide to Architecture in South Africa. Cape Town: Howard Timmins. pg 64 (ill.)
Herbert, Gilbert. 1975. Martienssen & the international style: The modern movement in South African architecture. Cape Town - Rotterdam: AA Balkema. pg 122-30