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It is a large domical shelter based on spherical geometry. It was at the shul building that Schaerer, the engineer-architect and late product of the age of eclecticism, was inspired to adopt Byzantine prototypes for the orchestration of volumetric space suitable in scale for a congregation of 1 400 people and appropriate for Jewish ritual. The reinforced concrete central saucer dome (with welted and seamed copper-sheeting), raised up on a cylindrical clerestory drum, is supported on pendentives between a series of giant arches which define the congregational space of the interior. Barrel-vaulted forms and hemicycles crowned with semi-circular side domes are used to restrain the thrust of the main cupola in a marriage of new reinforced concrete technology and traditional Byzantine load-bearing construction. The details, from the modulated exterior brickwork and the bold terracotta grillework in the surrounding precinct walling to the sheer urbanity of the main street-entrance loggia (four granite steps up from the widened pavement in order to create a ceremonial entrance route), are all products of an architectural intelligence operating in a closely observed urban context.
(FRIBA nom papers 1927; Afr Archt Jun 1913: xiii ill:214, 215; The Star 8 Nov 1984)
The building is no longer used as a Synagogue. William MARTINSON, October 2010.
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.
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