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REES-POOLE, Vivian Sydney

Born: 1883 04 05
Died: 1965 01


Reg No: 98
Year registered: 1927

Also referred to as POOLE, Vivian Sydney Rees.

Until at least 1927 Rees-Poole's name was spelt both with and without a hyphen; by 1944 his business letterhead read VS Rees-Poole. Vivian Rees-Poole was born in Jagersfontein in the Orange Free State and was educated at the Diocesan School for Boys Cape Town. His father was William Rees Poole and his mother was Alice Gibbs. He did not at once go into architecture but first studied singing with H Clements, intending an operatic career, and developed his drawing abilities under James Ford in Cape Town. Rees-Poole was apparently introduced to Herbert BAKER by Bishop Fogarty which helped him decide to study architecture. In February 1898 he became a pupil in Baker's office in Cape Town for three years. He won the BAKER & MASEY prize in 1906 with his measured drawings of 'Gemeten en geteekend door Goede Hoop', Baker, the assessor of this competition, the first of its kind in South Africa, observed of the drawings: 'the details are really of first rate order and excellence and would do credit to a London draughtsman' (SAAE&S Jnl Jul 1906:139). Rees-Poole won first prize in the following year (1907) in the Art Section of the Cape Town eisteddfod for his measured drawings. He remained in Baker's office for a further five years after completion of his pupillage. According to his obituary in the Pretoria News (26 Jan 1965), Rees-Poole met Jan Smuts at the house of the artist Hugo Naude and came to the Transvaal at Smuts's suggestion. In 1910 he obtained a twelve-month appointment in the PUBLIC WORKS DEPARTMENT in Pretoria, helping in the team working on the Union Buildings. In 1911 he won the competition for the layout of Church Square in Pretoria in collaboration with W BARBOURE, also then in the PWD (cf REES-POOLE & BARBOURE). On the completion of this scheme he went overseas to study. He travelled in England, Belgium, Paris and the South of France for a year and a further year in Italy and France, studying mostly in Rome and Paris. In about 1913 he returned to South Africa where he settled in Pretoria. His preference for classical architecture is apparent in his commentary on the architecture of Pretoria for the Municipal Guide (1913) in which he deplored the lack of symmetry and style in the buildings on Church Square. In 1917 he won the competition for the proposed layout of Market Square in Bloemfontein and received special mention in the competition for the layout of the site of the University of the Witwatersrand at Milner Park in Johannesburg in 1919.

By 1920 Rees-Poole had a considerable practice in Pretoria and added to his growing reputation by winning the competition for the Brakpan Town Hall in 1923. In 1924 he was appointed Diocesan Architect for the diocese of the Church of the Province of South Africa in Pretoria by Bishop Talbot and in 1925 was invited to visit Mombasa in Kenya with the Pretoria city engineer F Walter JAMESON to prepare a town planning scheme for the 'island' on behalf of the Imperial Government. In about 1929 JJ KIRKNESS, an admirer of Baker's work, commissioned Rees-Poole to design his house in Muckleneuk, Pretoria. The sharply-defined outlines of the Kirkness House is more a monument to the famous Kirkness brick itself rather than to a Baker School disciple. Elected a Fellow of the RIBA in 1933, in 1935 he was appointed Architect to the United Kingdom High Commissioner by Sir William Clark and received the King's Silver Jubilee Medal, possibly a result of his involvement with the garden layout and design of Overvaal in Pretoria, official residence of the Administrator of the Transvaal. For although the design of this building fell within the official jurisdiction of the PWD and several members of the PWD staff, such as WD PRETORIUS, B RUTGERS and RC ABBOTT, architectural assistants in the PWD, worked on the scheme, the building has been credited to Rees-Poole. By the mid-1930s there was a move among upper civil servants towards adopting the so-called Cape Dutch Revival style and Rees-Poole was responsible for a number of large houses in this mode in the Eastern suburbs of Pretoria (by 1931 he himself was living at Trelyn, 1 Government Avenue, Lisdogan, Pretoria.)

Rees-Poole frequently exhibited at the South African Academy [of Arts] exhibitions. Among his earliest exhibits was a drawing of the Forum at Rome, 1923 and in 1927 he exhibited a drawing for Brakpan Town Hall. Before 1931 he designed a hotel at Mbabane in Swaziland and St Mark's School and hostels in Swaziland. He was commissioned to design a memorial to Chief Moshesh of Basutoland (Lesotho) on top of Thaba Bosiu in Lesotho and a country house in Cape Dutch style for Adlai Stevenson, the American politician, who visited Africa in 1955 and in 1957; the house was possibly built at Stevenson's farm Libertyville in Illinois. He designed a house Franshoek, probably in the Cape, for Colonel the Honourable Guy Wilson which may not have been completed since Wilson was killed in the First World War.

Among his more important commisions was the design of Sunlawns at Olifantsfontein near Pretoria for the Cullinan family (n.d.) and in 1945 he collaborated with the architect Basil SOUTH on the design of Hillview School in Pretoria. Rees-Poole died in Pretoria. It is suspected that his drawings have been destroyed.

LRIBA Pretoria 1911; FRIBA 1933; Pres TPIA 1935-6. (AB&E Aug 1919:11; AB&E Oct 1925:29-30; Building Jun 1919:262-3; Building Sep 1923:94; FRIBA nom papers (1933) 3092; Jnl ATA Sep 1917:48 ill; Pta News 7.10.1910 suppl; Pta News 26 Nov 1965; SAAE&S Jnl Jan 1907:69 ill; SAAR Jun 1929:45; SAAR Apr 1932:93-94; SAAR May 1935:131; SA Lady's Pic Feb 1912:10; WW in Pta 1952)

Publ: The architecture of Pretoria, City of Pta and district 1913: 83-94; The new town-planning scheme for Mombasa, SAAR Jun 1927: 46, ill; Symbolism in art, SAAR Apr 1933:81-3

Submitted an entry for the Competition for the new Prime Minister's Residence - unplaced.

All truncated references not fully cited in 'References' are those of Joanna Walker's original text and cited in full in the 'Bibliography' entry of the Lexicon.

List of projects

With photographs
With notes

All Saints Anglican Church: 1924. Barberton, Mpumalanga - Architect
Barclays Bank: 1927. Mokopane (Potgietersrust), Limpopo - Architect
Beckett's Building: pre-1933. Tshwane (Pretoria), Gauteng - Architect
Broadway Mansion: pre-1933. Tshwane (Pretoria), Gauteng - Architect
Christian Brothers' College: 1905 : pre-1933 : 1933. Kimberley, Northern Cape - Architect
Christian Brothers' College: pre-1933. Tshwane (Pretoria), Gauteng - Architect
Connaught Bldg: pre-1933. Tshwane (Pretoria), Gauteng - Architect
Convent and School for Sisters of Mercy: 1923. Capital Park, Tshwane (Pretoria), Gauteng - Architect
Cottage Mrs MD Brown: 1930. Hillcrest, Tshwane (Pretoria), Gauteng - Architect
Eendracht School: 1937. Tshwane (Pretoria), Gauteng - Architect
English Medium Junior School: 1939. Boksburg, Gauteng - Architect
General Garage: pre-1933. Tshwane (Pretoria), Gauteng - Architect
House: 1929. Arcadia, Tshwane (Pretoria), Gauteng - Architect
House Advocate Tindall: pre-1933. Tshwane (Pretoria), Gauteng - Architect
House Col CL de Villiers: 1930. Waterkloof, Tshwane (Pretoria), Gauteng - Architect
House Colonel Maggs: 1932. Waterkloof, Tshwane (Pretoria), Gauteng - Architect
House Dr JF Jeffries: 1923. Tshwane (Pretoria), Gauteng - Architect
House Giovanetti, MP: pre-1933. Tshwane (Pretoria), Gauteng - Architect
House J Chapman: pre-1933. Johannesburg, Gauteng - Architect
House J Kirkness, Muckleneuk: c1929. Tshwane (Pretoria), Gauteng - Architect
House J Rothman: pre-1933. Kimberley, Northern Cape - Architect
House J Sharpe: pre-1933. Johannesburg, Gauteng - Architect
House JM McTroup (?): pre-1933. Tshwane (Pretoria), Gauteng - Architect
House R Cullinan: Sunlawns: n.d.. Olifantsfontein, Gauteng - Architect
House V Pocock, MP: pre-1933. Tshwane (Pretoria), Gauteng - Architect
Indian School: 1934. Pretoria West, Tshwane (Pretoria), Gauteng - Architect
Market Sq, layout: 1917. Bloemfontein, Free State - Architect
Muckleneuk House: c1929. Tshwane (Pretoria), Gauteng - Architect
Oliver Tambo House (was Over-Vaal): 1937. Tshwane (Pretoria), Gauteng - Architect
Over-Vaal: 1935. Tshwane (Pretoria), Gauteng - Architect
St John's Auxiliary Hospital for Soldiers - Sunlawns: 1940s. Olifantsfontein, Gauteng - Architect
St Mary's Diocesan School for Wantage Community: 1928. Hillcrest, Tshwane (Pretoria), Gauteng - Architect
Sunlawns as Hospital: 1940s. Olifantsfontein, Gauteng - Architect
Sunlawns: House R Cullinan: n.d.. Olifantsfontein, Gauteng - Architect
Town Hall: 1923. Brakpan, Gauteng - Architect
Town Hall: 1933. eMakhazeni (Belfast), Mpumalanga - Architect

Books citing REES-POOLE

Brown, SM. 1969. Architects and others: an annotated list of people of South African interest appearing in the RIBA Journal 1880-1925. Johannesburg: Unpublished dissertation, University of the Witwatersrand. pp

Cumming-George, L. 1933. Architecture in South Africa - Volume One. Cape Town: The Speciality Press of S.A. Ltd.. pp 76

Greig, Doreen. 1970. Herbert Baker in South Africa. Cape Town: PURNELL. pp 43, 195, 211

HSRC. 1987. Dictionary of South African Biography Volume V. Pretoria: Human Sciences Research Council. pp 626-627

ISAA. 1959. The Yearbook of the Institute of South African Architects and Chapter of SA Quantity Surveyors 1958-1959 : Die Jaarboek van die Instituut van Suid-Afrikaanse Argitekte en Tak van Suid-Afrikaanse Bourekenaars 1958-1959. Johannesburg: ISAA. pp 95, 190

Ploeger, J. 1963. Over-Vaal : die geskiedenis van 'n ampswoning. Pretoria: Transvaalse Provinsiale Administrasie. pp 56-57

Potgieter, DJ (Editor-in-chief). 1973. Standard Encyclopaedia of South Africa [SESA] Volume 8 Mus-Pop. Cape Town: Nasou. pp 414

Wallace-Hadrill, Andrew. 2001. The British School at Rome : one hundred years. London: British School at Rome. pp 210