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GERNEKE, Carl (Gus)

Born: 1930 04 28
Died: 2023 11 21


Reg No: 2381
Year registered: 1964

BArch (Pretoria (1964). Title of design dissertation 'Garankuwa Bantoe hospital in die De Wildt Tuisland'.

Also sometimes spelt GERNECKE.

Grandson of Berlin Missionary, Pastor Carl August Gottlieb Gerneke [Born 1856 06 04 (Schwarzholz, Landkreis Stendal, Sachsen-Anhalt, Deutschland); Died 1932 03 22 (Cape Town, South Africa)]; He is buried at the Amalienstein Mission Station in the graveyard of the Evangelical Lutheran Church, Ladismith, Cape Province, South Africa. (Source: EGGSA)

In his reminiscences [recorded in discussion with Jacques LAUBSCHER] GERNEKE tells of growing up in the then Western Transvaal, and learning to play the piano, taught by the local piano teacher, the widow of the local attorney. On occasions he would have to wait while she finished milking the cow. He also tells of a Government-supported scheme where each school-going child was encouraged to partake in some form of agricultural skill development, be that the keeping of a cow or livestock, growing a field of maize, or in his particular choice, cultivation of a 12 foot by 12 foot (144 sq ft = 14,4 sq m) patch of the yard as a vegetable garden. These formative influences seem to have endured and manifested in his interests later in life.

GERNEKE matriculated from Wolmaransstad Hoërskool (First Class, distinctions in English and German), whereafter, in 1948, he registered for a BArch degree at the University of Pretoria [Note: UP had recently formed an independent Department of Architecture, with Gerard MOERDYK as Chancellor]. He often interrupted his studies to work and pursue his other passion, music, his instrument being the piano. He wistfully records that there was a Bösendorfer piano in the Theosophical (also know as the Congregational Hall) in Arcadia Pretoria, whereas the piano of the university residence where he stayed, Sonop, had a piano of appalling quality [Laubscher interview]. This prolonging of his studies led to his claim as being one of the longest students of architecture.

In 1952 he entered into the full-time employment of MOERDYK and WATSON. In their employ as architectural students from Wits were also Wilhelm MEYER, Jan VAN WIJK and John VOORENDYK. Here, amongst other projects, GERNEKE designed the gates in Cape Dutch Revival style to the property of the Engelenburghuis, the headquarters of the Suid-Afrikaanse Akademie vir Wetenskap en Kuns). The gate was demolished and rebuilt in same style on the opposite corner after the property was subdivided.

In 1953 he entered the employ of ME MUSSMANN for the requisite practical experience in his fourth year of study.

In 1955 he returned to full-time employment with MOERDYK and WATSON. In 1956, while still in their employ, he studied, for non-degree purposes, and passed a course in French at the University of Pretoria.

In January of 1957 until July of that year he joined the staff of the Department of Agriculture, working in their journalism section.

Thereafter, until 1959, he was in the employ of MAARTENS and HAAK Architects. In this time he claims the following engagements for the design, technical documentation and supervision of, amongst others, House Maartens, Pretoria; House Botha, Montana, Pretoria; The NGK Pastorie [Dutch Reformed Church Parsonage], Wonderboom South, Pretoria; the Medical Centre, Pietersburg and the Medical Centre, Nylstroom.

From 1960 until 1964 he was in the employ of KARL JOOSTE ARCHITECTS. Others there were WA STEYN, F VILJOEN, AE DU TOIT and J MALHERBE. In this time he claims engagement in working on the technical documentation of various houses, the Volkskas Bank in Kempton Park as well as the Volkskas Bank in Phalaborwa. Additionally he cites his engagement in producing the technical documentation, from the early stages, of the Tzaneen Hospital as well as its site supervision and inspection. GERNEKE was also responsible for the design, documentation and supervision and inspection of the NGK Sendingkerk [Dutch Reformed Mission Church] in Petrus Steyn, Orange Free State.

In 1964, after his graduation, he registered with the SACA as architect and joined Karl JOOSTE and George WILSENACH in partnership. During these years he designed, amongst others, Huis Serfontein, Kroonstad, Orange Free State (1964-1968).

From December 1965 until July 1966 he took up a travel bursary from the Association pour l'organisation des stages en France (ASTEF) [see OECD for current details] to Paris and followed a course in modern construction methods and industrialization of the building industry at the French Building Research Institute. He also did a month-long course in Town and Regional Planning at the French Ministry of Construction. He records that in the time of attending these courses he was able to pay various visits to the offices of Jean Prouvé, as well as visiting various of his projects and attending his lectures on industrial design at the École des Arts et Métiers. Furthermore he regularly visited the studios of Georges Candilis and Ionel Schein as well as the town and regional planning studios of the Ecole des Beaux Arts, attending sessions of criticism there.

In 1966 he took the examination in Professional Practice in order to register as an Associate of the RIBA, returning in that year after his French sojourn, to the offices of Karl JOOSTE Architect, where he remained until 1968. In this time he records the following as projects, amongst others, for which he bore personal responsibility: the Bunga Building Umtata, Transkei; the Moedersbond Maternity Hospital, Pretoria; the Mafeking Regional Hospital for 1 200 pasients; the Gelukspan Hospital for 420 general patients, 300 consumptives as well as 200 geriatric patients and the Madadeni Hospital for 2 000 psychiatric patients, many introducing the use of industrialized building methods he had encountered in his sojourn in Paris. For the Tshilidzini Hospital he was responsible for the conversion of the lower floor to the provision of specialist services, including new theatres, maternity facilities, day patients as well as intensive care. For this project he personally researched methods of care and servicing for these categories of patients, and consequently the application of his findings in the sketch designs and development of working drawings.

In July of 1968 he joined the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) as Senior Architect doing work in Lebanon, Israel, Jordan, Syria and Gaza, where he remained until towards the end of 1969. In this time he claims sketch designs for the educational college, Amman, Jordan; the conversion of the Bureij Consumptive hospital, Gaza; the conversion of the Augusta Victoria Hospital, Jerusalem; a design of a new series of clinics based on the medical procedures as researched for Tshilidzini Hospital applied in Der'aa in Syria; Ir bid in Jordan as well as Zerka in Jordan; and a poly-clinic in Beirut, Lebanon. His period in the Middle East led to his claim to be: 'The world's most demolished architect'.

In 1969 he is recorded as Member of the TIA of address 1331 Duncan Street Brooklyn, Pretoria [SAIA Register 1969].

In 1970 he entered into partnership with Anton du TOIT. In the partnership he was located in their London office, while doing commissions for SATOUR, including their London and New York bureaux. While some of the drawings were done in the Pretoria office, these were completed in London, where GERNEKE was also responsible for the selection and acquisitioning of furnishing for the project. In 1970 Schalk LE ROUX, then a student in his final year working for Anton du TOIT, recalls an unidentified person rushing into the office, demanding help with drawings of a detail of a door for the London Satour office, an innovative design Le ROUX enjoyed detailing, while said person phoned various airlines, trying to book a flight: ''Madam, you don't say 'I don't speak Afrikaans', you say, 'I'm terribly sorry, but I cannot speak Afrikaans!' '' When Du TOIT heard of the stranger's visit it emerged it was Carl GERNEKE.

In 1971 he returned to Paris to attend a course in Technique Moderne De La Construction at the Centre Scientifique et Technique Du Paris under the directorship of Monsieur Blachére.

In 1972 he was serving on the management committee of the Pretoria Argitektuur Studiegroep [Pretoria Architecture Study Group - PAS].

In March 1972 GERNEKE was appointed as Lecturer on the staff of in the Department of Architecture, University of Pretoria.

In 1979 GERNEKE completed a year-long course at the Centre for the Conservation of Historic Towns and Buildings at the College of Europe in Bruges (Gerneke, 1980:75). On his return GERNEKE (1980) published a bibliography of publications related to European conservation. After this year of study abroad he, through various articles, provides insight into the contemporary European and international debates pertaining to conservation, as well as expounding on the guidelines of the various international charters, discussing the organisation and role of ICOMOS, as well as the Athens Charter (1931), the Hague Convention for the protection of cultural property (1954), the Charter of Venice (1964), ICOMOS Warsaw (1965) and the various ICOMOS Symposia from 1965- 1976 (Gerneke, 1983:42-45).

On his return GERNEKE also presented a paper at an Interbou symposium, (where amongst others Gawie FAGAN also did a presentation) titled 'Changing views of changing monuments' (De Waal 2014:79 and see for points argued).

In 1981 he was promoted to Senior Lecturer. In his tenure on the staff of the Department, GERNEKE (or Gus, as he was known amongst the student corps), almost exclusively, lead the third year design studio with Marlien HEYSTEK as his co-studio leader. His methods were unconventional and provocative, leaving a profound and indelible impression, much of this coming to light in the social media platforms at the time of his memorial. Many of the design briefs he set reflected episodes of his past experience or current concerns and fascinations.

In June of 1986 he resigned from the Department of Architecture, University of Pretoria, following the resignation from the Headship of Alewyn BURGER at the end of 1985, under whose headship he had served for the entire term of his employment at the University of Pretoria.

In 1986 he was appointed to the staff of the University of Cape Town School of Architecture, then under the headship of Ivor PRINSLOO. Again he was assigned to lead third year design studio with Paul RIGHINII. In about 1995 he retired and returned to Pretoria to reside in Orange Court, a property owned by him and his wife.

In 1997 and 1998 he taught, as a part-time lecturer, in the first semester of the second year studio in the Department of Architecture, University of Pretoria.

From 1997 until 2002 he had a temporary full-time appointment as second year studio leader at University of Port Elizabeth with Stephen LEAR.

From 2003 until 2007 he acted as external examiner for Third Year Design at the University of Port Elizabeth.

He died in Pretoria in the Zuid-Afrikaans Hospitaal.


De Waal, J. 2014. Authenticity and the perceptions of significance : examining Rust-en-Vrede in Durbanville, South Africa. University of Cape Town; electronically published MPhil dissertation.


Obituary: Carl 'Gus' Gerneke 28.04.1930 - 21.11.2023

It is with sadness that we have learned about the passing of Carl 'Gus' Gerneke, inspiring teacher, architect, urbanist, essayist and conservationist.

Many colleagues and students at the University of Pretoria and later UCT and NMMU have been inspired by his methods of teachings - provocative - with a sharp intellect, quiet humility, and extraordinary stories on anything related to architecture, the city places, culture and people. Often presenting them with stories of historical events, places, books, cars or architecture that no one has ever heard of. A raconteur and provocateur, teacher and friend, he will be remembered as one of the legendary figures in the South African architecture society of the seventies to the nineties and beyond.

Always ready with an extraordinary story, his perception and intuition as a lecturer was admired. Gus was an outsider, and a maverick in the positive sense : courageous, original and authentic and inspired all of us to think outside conventions, and to aspire to implement 'low-key' detailing in architecture.

Gus was much loved and continued contact with many students over the years, supporting and encouraging them in their careers. He was our compass for our modest attempts in architecture and the city.

In the words of Roger Fisher: 'A complex and contrary character full of wisdom, dry wit and deep insight of character. He was extremely anti-establishment and authoritarianism.'

Schalk le Roux writing in Boukunde 75th Anniversary Publication: "Gerneke, wat beleë Europese motors en volksvreemde honde aangehou het, het as wederstrewige provokateur en ongeneeslike raconteur die hele skool gedurig in rep en roer gehad..."

(SAIA Newsflash, Submitted by William Martinson)

[See also Honouring Gus Gerneke as Writer by Roger C Fisher in Architecture S A 2013].

List of projects

With photographs
With notes

Gelukspan Hospital: c.1966. Lichtenburg, North West - Design Architect
House Botha: c. 1959. Montana, Tshwane (Pretoria), Gauteng - Designer
House Maartens: c. 959. Tshwane (Pretoria), Gauteng - Designer
House Serfontein: 1964-1968. Middenspruit Farm, Kroonstad, Free State - Architect
Madadeni Hospital: c.1966. Madadeni, Newcastle, KwaZulu-Natal - Design Architect
Mafeking [Mafikeng] Regional Hospital: c.1966. Mahikeng, North West - Design Architect
Medical Centre: c. 1955. Modimolle (Nylstroom), Limpopo - Designer
Medical Centre: c. 1955. Polokwane (Pietersburg), Limpopo - Designer
Moedersbond Maternity Hospital : New facilities: c. 1966. Arcadia, Tshwane (Pretoria), Gauteng - Design Architect
NGK Pastorie [Parsonage]: c.1959. Wonderboom, Tshwane (Pretoria), Gauteng - Designer
NGK Sendingkerk [Mission Church]: 1960s. Petrus Steyn, Free State - Architect
Tshilidzini Hospital: early 1970s. Thohoyandou, Limpopo - Design Architect

Books citing GERNEKE

Bakker, Karel A, Clarke, Nicholas J. 2014. Eclectic ZA Wilhelmiens : A shared Dutch built heritage in South Africa. Pretoria: Visual Books. pp 1

ISAA. 1969. The Yearbook of the Institute of South African Architects and Chapter of SA Quantity Surveyors 1968-1969 : Die Jaarboek van die Instituut van Suid-Afrikaanse Argitekte en Tak van Suid-Afrikaanse Bourekenaars 1968-1969. Johannesburg: ISAA. pp 93, 119

Articles by GERNEKE

Gerneke, Carl. 1963 (March). Hockey Stadium, Pretoria : John Templer. [South African] Architect and Builder.

Gerneke, Carl. 1968 (Februarie). Industrialisasie van die boubedryf Architectural Record (ISAA).

Gerneke, Carl. 1970 (3 August). Argitektuur sonder argitekte. Die Vaderland.

Gerneke, Carl. 1970 (January). Galleria. Plan.

Gerneke, Carl. 1970 (May). Ma'alula. Plan.

Gerneke, Carl. 1972 (Check if published). Byekorf hutte op die Siriese vlakte. Plan.

Gerneke, Carl. 1972 (Check if published). The Trulli of Alberobello, Apulia. Plan.

Gerneke, Carl. 1972 (Check if published). Architecture by subtraction, Cappadocia. Plan.

Gerneke, Carl. 1972 (February). Werk van Karl Jooste. Credo.

Gerneke, Carl. 1972 (Month?). Burgersentrum , Segrata, Italië. Plan.

Gerneke, Carl. 1980. Reflections on conservation: Changing views of changing monuments. Restorica, 8, 75-83.

Gerneke, Carl. 1983. ICOMOS : The International Council on Monuments and Sites. Restorica, 14, 42-45.

MARÉ, E., GERNEKE, C. & LE ROUX, S. 1987. Importance of architects' views in architectural history. South African Journal of Culture and Art History. vol. 1 no. 1. March pp. 76-90

Gerneke, Carl. 1989 (Sept/Oct). Renaissance van Die Boerevrou. Architecture SA pp.39-42.

Gerneke, Carl. 1992 (Jul/Aug). The return to earth : The last of three articles on earth building. Architecture SA : Journal of the South African Institute of Architects (July/August) pp. 40-44..

Gerneke, Carl. 1992 (March/April). The Return to earth [Part 1 of 3]. Architecture SA : Journal of the South African Institute of Architects p.28-31.

Gerneke, Carl. 1992 (May/June). From Rio to Pretoria : Brazilian influence on Transvaal architecture in the fifties. Architecture SA : Journal of the South African Institute of Architects May/June. pp.34-39..

Gerneke, Carl. 1992 (May/June). The return to earth : Part 2 - Reinstating earth building. Architecture SA : Journal of the Institute of South African Architects pp.36-40.

Gerneke, Carl. 1992 (Nov/Dec). The Seville Universal Exposition, 1992. Architecture SA : Journal of the Institute of South African Architects pp.18-19.

Gerneke, Carl. 1993 (May/June) 18-21. De Kasteel De Goede Hoop. Architecture SA, 18-21.

Gerneke, Carl. 1994 (January/February). Suddenly it was yesterday. Architecture SA : Journal of the South African Institute of Architects p.24.

Gerneke, Carl. 1994 (Nov/Dec). Changing view of gardens and Roberto Burle Marx. Architecture SA : Journal of the Institute of South African Architects pp.27-32.

Gerneke, Carl. 1995 (July/Aug). Expropriating the unique: Copy, model, imitation, fake. Architecture SA : Journal of the Institute of South African Architects. pp.20-26..

Gerneke, Carl. 1996 (Jan/Feb). Expropriating the unique: copy, model, imitation, fake. Architecture SA : Journal of the Institute of South African Architects pp.21-27.

Gerneke, Carl. 1996 (Jul/Aug). Early journeys to the 29th parallel. Architecture SA : Journal of the Institute of South African Architects pp. 19-24.

Gerneke, Carl. 1999 (Jan/Feb). Amancio D’Alpoim Miranda Guedes. Architecture SA : Journal of the Institute of South African Architects pp.27–34.

Gerneke, Carl. 2000 (March/April). Irritating or beguiling. Architecture SA : Journal of the Institute of South African Architects..

Gerneke, Carl. 2002 (Aug). Dislike: Fallen orchids and dying swans. Leading Architecture p.51..

Gerneke, Carl & Cooke, Julian. 2002 (June). Ivor Prinsloo: a memoir. Obituary: Ivor Prinsloo. SA Architect : Journal of the South African Institute of Architects pp.10-12.

Gerneke, Carl. 2002 (Nov/Dec). Review: Nieuwe Sion Leading Architecture pp. 33-36..

Gerneke, Carl. 2003 (Feb). Recycled Bank, Standerton. Leading Architecture p.35.

Gerneke, Carl. 2003 (February). To become one with nature. Leading Architecture p.36..

Gerneke, Carl. 2003 (Mar/Apr). Lanseria International Airport. Leading Architecture pp.58-60.

Gerneke, Carl. 2003 (May/June). Peter Smithson (1923-2003). Leading Architecture p.12.

Gerneke, Carl. 2006 (May/June). The Red Location Museum. Architecture SA : Journal of the South African Institute of Architects pp.18-22.

Gerneke, Carl. 2011 (Sept/Oct). Johannesburg transition : Architecture and society from 1950 - Clive M Chipkin [Book review]. Architecture South Africa : Journal of the South African Institute of Architects pp.74-75..

Books by GERNEKE

Entries in books by GERNEKE

Gerneke, Gus. From Brazil to Pretoria: The Second Wave of the Modern Movement. In Architecture of the Transvaal. 1998. UNISA

Gerneke, Gus. House Mabet. In 10 years + 100 buildings : Architecture in a Democratic South Africa. 2009. Bell-Roberts Publishing

Gerneke, Gus. House Groenewald. In 10 years + 100 buildings : Architecture in a Democratic South Africa. 2009. Bell-Roberts Publishing

Gerneke, Gus. Stables & Studio. In 10 years + 100 buildings : Architecture in a Democratic South Africa. 2009. Bell-Roberts Publishing

Gerneke, Gus. Apartheid Museum. In 10 years + 100 buildings : Architecture in a Democratic South Africa. 2009. Bell-Roberts Publishing

Gerneke, Gus. Tree House. In 10 years + 100 buildings : Architecture in a Democratic South Africa. 2009. Bell-Roberts Publishing

Gerneke, Gus. Red House. In 10 years + 100 buildings : Architecture in a Democratic South Africa. 2009. Bell-Roberts Publishing

Gerneke, Gus. Nieuwe Sion Farmstead. In 10 years + 100 buildings : Architecture in a Democratic South Africa. 2009. Bell-Roberts Publishing

Gerneke, Gus. Red Location Museum of Struggle. In 10 years + 100 buildings : Architecture in a Democratic South Africa. 2009. Bell-Roberts Publishing

Gerneke, Carl. An account of the shipwreck of the Sterreschans by Count de Grandpré. In Festschrift in honour of O.J.O. Ferreira. 2010. Adamastor