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Reserve Investment Building and Cafe Riche
Central, Pretoria, Gauteng

Francois (Frans) SOFF: Architect

Type:Mixed Commercial
Street:Church Square


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25°44'48.07" S 28°11'13.67" E Alt: 1322m

The Cafe Riche, is situated on the corner of Parliament and Church streets in Church Square, in the Pretoria CBD. It was designed in 1904 by Fans Soff, the Dutch architect, and built in 1905. (Duffey 2005) Soff also designed the Vrouemonument in Bloemfontein together with Anton VAN WOUW. (De Beer 1978)

The building in which the Cafe Riche is situated was originally known as the Investment building but due to the popularity of the Cafe, the building's former name was forgotten. (De Beer 1978) It is one of the oldest restaurants in Pretoria and has had many owners during its long life.

The building was designed in the Art Nouveau style as this was popular in Europe during 1894 and 1914 (Derville 2005). The building is aesthetically significant as it is very close to the Art Nouveau model, it displays many of the stylistic characteristics such as an a-symmetrical facade, symbolic decoration and ornaments as well as a basis on organic beauty rather than academic art. (Monk 2011)

The decoration in the form of the stone owl, perched on the concrete plinth on the North East corner, as well as the stone relief of 'Mercury' were both designed by Anton van Wouw (Duffey 2005).

Van Wouw also designed and sculpted the famous Paul Kruger statue which now sits in the middle of Church Square. (Fine Arts Portfolio 2011)

The window frames and door came from the 'Toringkerk', the second and last church in Church Square with a Tower. The Toringkerk is historically significant as it was the second and last church in Church Square to have a tower. (Ploeger 1990)

Today the Cafe Riche is a National Monument because it is steeped in history and has witnessed the growth of the capital of South Africa for over a hundred years. It is now 106 years old making it one of the oldest buildings in Church Square. Cafe Riche and its significance is a wealth of knowledge to both present and future generations.

DUFFEY, AE. 2005. Africana Society Pretoria Yearbook. No. 22. Pretoria.
DE BEER, D. 5 May 1978. Cafe Riche first to go? Pretoria News.
DERVILLE, F. 2005. What is Art Nouveau? Art Nouveau World Wide [Accessed 8 June 2011]
MONK, R 2011. Characteristics of Art Nouveau. Life 123. [Accessed 8 June 2011]
South Africa Sculptors Fine Arts Portfolio. [Accessed 8 June 2011]
PLOEGER, J. 1990. Burgerkomitee vir die bewaring en restourasie van kerkplein. Research Repository of the University of Pretoria. [Accessed 8 June 2011]

(JAMES, DANIELLE. 2011. ONT 301 Theory Assignment. Cafe Riche, Church Square, Pretoria. University of Pretoria, Department of Architecture)

(Restorica Aug 1979:5 ill)

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

Bakker, Karel A, Clarke, Nicholas J & Fisher, Roger C. 2014. Eclectic ZA Wilhelmiens : A shared Dutch built heritage in South Africa. Pretoria: Visual Books. pg 201, 202
Picton-Seymour, Désirée. 1989. Historical Buildings in South Africa. Cape Town: Struikhof Publishers. pg 167
Swart, Johan & Proust, Alain . 2019. Hidden Pretoria. Cape Town: Struik Lifestyle. pg 56-57