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Trianon Building (now Tiny Town)
Pretoria, Gauteng

Hendrik HORSTMANSHOF: Architect

Type:Housing scheme
Style:Arts and Crafts : Tectonic ZA Wilhelmiens


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25°44'39.84" S 28°12'51.61" E

The history of Tiny Town dates back to its construction in 1929 by Netherlands-born architect Hendrik HORSTMANSHOF and his partner, who built 14 living units which comprised the Trianon Building, who adopted the architectural style of the Arts and Crafts Movement to create a group of middle-class residences in a formal park-like setting. While the place in itself has no specific architectural features that distinguish it, it remains a unique example in Pretoria of a speculative endeavour by the designer/contactor HORSTMANSHOF in group housing to form a "township" that encapsulates the Garden City movement objectives of a group of middle class residences in a formal park-like setting. It is also inspired by the Social Housing movement of the Netherlands, which encouraged the building of affordable living units constructed by those who were to reside there. The continuous occupation of the complex as residences throughout the years attests to the success of the endeavour, and it remains a place that many who have resided in Pretoria have been pleased to call "home".

Because of its self-contained miniature-town structure – incorporating pergolas, fish ponds, bridges, lighting and paving – the development came to be called Tiny Town by local residents.

HORSTMANSHOF’s daughter (who lived in the Trianon Building for four years) recalled that there were "two double-storey living units and a water tower with a big combustion stove which provided hot water for all the units". She added that particular emphasis was placed on the garden as a focal point, with its many plant-clad pergolas and crazy-paved pathways of Pelindaba slate, typical of the time.

Having become derelict through neglect over the years the dilapidated Tiny Town development was purchased by the property City Property under the chairmanship of Alec Wapnick.

Many decades of neglect had left the original structures in dire state of disrepair. Pieter OOSTHUIZEN of VDO Consulting, the brief was to upgrade the structure to “fit in with the requirements of the 21st century and the changing character of the area, while respecting the history and context of the buildings.” Work was carried out in close consultation with the Heritage Resources Agency. Many of the original features, fittings and furnishings were retained such as old steel baths which were re-enameled although Oregon pine doors and windows had to be replaced and obsolete light fittings modernized.

The project was managed by Tom Burke who relates that the housing had been rented by university arts students prior to the revamp. In its new form Tiny Town is now a security village for the mid- and upper-income earners.

Roger FISHER did the Heritage Impact Assessment (HIA) and Nicholas CLARKE for ARCHIFACTS the Heritage Implementation Management (HIM).

Read more on the City Property site.

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.