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Shell House
Johannesburg, Gauteng

REID, GARDINER and MARTIN: Architect

Date:1931
Type:Offices
Status:Extant
Street:101 Main/Rissik Sts

 


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Coordinates:
26°12'24.03" S 28°02'32.07" E Alt: 1765m

(SAAR Aug 1932:212-213)

Cumming George 1933 (Reprinted from the S.A. Architectural record)

SHELL HOUSE, the new Johannesburg home of the Shell Company of South Africa, Ltd., is one of the latest and most up-to-date of skyscrapers in the Union. It consists of ten floors of offices and a basement garage, and rises to a height of one hundred and twenty feet (36.58 m) from the pavement with a further thirty feet (9.14 m) to a lookout tower on the roof.

The building is constructed on modern fireproof lines, with special fire doors to cut off and localise any outbreak of fire. The main structure is of reinforced concrete and has no internal columns, thus leaving clear uninterrupted floor space for division into offices as required by the owners. The street facades are of precast concrete blocks of a warm ruddy hue, resembling sandstone, which give the building an air of warmth and dignity. A plinth of red granite and two storeys of blue form a strong base and contrast for the blocks above.

The entrance vestibule with its marble mosaic floor, green marble dado and variegated scagliola walls, suggests the same feeling of strength and dignity as the exterior. Relief and contrast for the marble are obtained by the judicious use of bronze to the electric fittings, name boards, letter box and dado capping. The main entrance and main hall doors, of distinctive design, are also of bronze.

A central heating system is installed with two oil fuel boilers as the heating unit. These boilers are thermostatically controlled and thus maintain an even predetermined temperature. An oil pipe connection is provided at the street kerb to two underground storage tanks from whence the oil is automatically pumped to the sprayers. The use of oil fuel eliminates the dust and dirt of coal, and as further means of cleanliness, a special incinerator is installed. Water at constant high pressure, is supplied to all fittings, hydrants, boilers, etc., from a twelve thousand gallon (54553 lt), concrete, tank on the roof. The valves as well as all door furniture, taps, fire appliances, and other metal work, except bronze are chromium plated.

The facilities on each floor include a tea-room with sink and electric tea urn, a letter box, connected by a shute to the main box in the entrance vestibule, which is cleared twice daily by the postal authorities, and a rubbish collecting shute discharging its contents direct to the boiler room where they are burnt in a special incinerator. The public is conveyed with much dispatch to the various floors by two high speed, self levelling, pilot controlled lifts, and a third similar lift, but automatic collective, caters for the Company and public after hours, joinery throughout the job is of teak and the same timber is used in panelling to the manager's office and the main hall on the ground floor.

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

Cumming-George, L. 1933. Architecture in South Africa - Volume One. Cape Town: The Speciality Press of S.A. Ltd.. pg 43 ill, 44 ill