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House Battiss - Giotto's Hill
Menlo Park, Pretoria, Gauteng

Norman Musgrave EATON: Architect

Client:Walter Battiss
Street:92 20th Street


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25°46'14.46" S 28°15'40.65" E

Built for Walter Battiss. Giotto was a young apprentice to the Florentine Master Cimabue who among others was commissioned to decorate the church at Assisi. In these frescoes the young Giotto proved himself “a daring naturalist in defiance of tradition, idealism and formalism". Not only was Giotto an artist, he was an Architect too. The Battiss house was inspired by a small white house perched on a hillside, featured in one of Giotto's frescoes. The house built in war time conditions, where materials were difficult to get, reflects the simple buildings that adorn Giotto's frescoes. The house was capably built by Mr. Brikkels, a coloured (sic) building contractor.

Accommodation at that stage would have been the garage, later the dining room, a sitting room, bath room, a narrow kitchen which had a combustion stove in it, to heat water. And a bedroom at the end of the passage. Outside a servants room, shower and toilet. Also attached outside was an outside toilet for the house owners. Toilets were with buckets serviced by the Pretoria Municipality. Upstairs was Walter’s studio and a second bedroom with wash hand basin. The house was located on a half erf, one away from the corner of 20th and Mackenzie streets. Later the corner half erf and the full erf behind the house in 20th street were bought to have more garden.

[Giles Battiss, son of Walter and Grace. May 2010]

The photos were sent to us by William MARTINSON and reproduced with kind permission of Grace Battiss, grandaughter of Walter and Grace Battiss.

For a history of Walter Battiss you can visit Wikipedia.

The property has now been turned into a Townhouse development called "Fook Island".