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Spanish Colonial - Spanish Mission - Californian Style

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During the 1930s and 40s architects in South Africa had long debated the suitability of European building to South African climatic problems. The colonial verandah house was rejected partly on the grounds that it was Victorian, and architects of that time detested things Victorian. One solution within the context of stylistic revival (ironically, a Victorian preoccupation) was the Spanish style called, variously, Spanish colonial, Californian and Spanish Mission style. Although essentially a domestic style Spanish revival was also applied successfully to high-rise flats and commercial buildings. The Ceramic Studio produced the tiles and modeled faience for various Durban buildings, the most notable being ING & JACKSON's Flats, Esplanade (1929), and Ritchie McKINLAY's Quadrant House (1927).

[Dr Melanie Hillebrand. 1991. The Woman of Olifantsfontein – South African Studio Ceramics. Cape Town: South African National Gallery. p 6]

This style shares with many others - such as Italianate, Spanish and Moroccan (and more contemporaneously Tuscan) - a fascination by South African practitioners with styles of Mediterranean origin. MOERDYK was an early advocate (1919) LEITH employed it in his own home, as did CLELAND, and it was further propagated by some of the Moderns, such as McINTOSH, in their domestic architecture. It probably held appeal as it seemed appropriate for temperate climates with hot summers but somewhat divorced from the hegemony of European colonial power.

It is distinguished by low pitched tiled roofs with deep eaves, rough plaster and articulated windows and doors, all subservient to the mass of the building.



List of structures built in this style

with images
with notes

House for Mr Sherlock, pre-1933, Newlands, Cape Town, Western Cape
House J Pretorius Botha, 1933, Brooklyn, Pretoria, Gauteng
House Mosenthal - Montecito, n.d., Parktown, Johannesburg, Gauteng
House Sir David Graaff - Zonnekus, 1929, Milnerton, Cape Town, Western Cape
Rosebank Union Church, 1925, Rosebank, Johannesburg, Gauteng

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