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House Lawrie, 'Tigablas'
Muckleneuk, Pretoria, Gauteng

Alexander Fraser LAWRIE: Architect

Date:c1928
Type:Homestead
Style:Modern Movement
Status:Extant
Street:247 Loveday St

The house is Lawrie's best-known building. For its construction he designed a 13 inch [175mm] concrete block to which could be added where intended a textured concrete tile which he designed, made up of interlocking Malayan pictograms of the numbers six and seven, their sum being favoured by Lawrie as a fortunate number, giving the name Tigablas, the transliteration of the original Malayan pictogram, to the house. In addition, the house number is 247, the digits of which figure add up to thirteen. Separately cast concrete blocks, forming complete modular corners, were made to suit both internal (convex) and external (concave) corners. The interior walls were intended to be left as raw concrete and unpainted but are now painted; the roof was flat, built to a specification of Lawrie's own devising. The design of the house, dependant on the module of the block/tile a modular system, perhaps the first example of the system in South Africa. Although Lawrie built many other houses in a variety of styles, none approached this concept.

(Lawrie papers, HSRC doc)

DESIGNED for his own occupation by the architect, it represents the new treatment of concrete and a design of modernism which is being favoured on the European continent.

The construction consists of an outer and inner wall of concrete blocks capped by a double concrete roof. The concrete blocks are 2, 3 and 4 inches (50.8, 76.2 and 101.6 mm) thick of unit sizes, grooved on all edges, laid on end, groove to groove and reinforced horizontally and vertically by steel rods with cross struts of steel tying the outer and inner walls together. Plain and ornamental blocks are used for both interior and exterior walls. The illustration of the lounge shows the plain and ornamental blocks very clearly. The glazing of windows and doors is carried out with horizontal glazing bars as being less disturbing to the vision and interior doors are composed of laminated woods.

Cumming-George 1933, pp.77-78.

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 77-78 ill