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University of the Cape of Good Hope
Cape Town, Western Cape

HAWKE and McKINLAY: Architect

Street:Queen Victoria St


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33°55'37.32" S 18°24'56.63" E Alt: 29m

(SAAE&E Jnl May 1906:111 ill; Afr Archt Oct 1913:xvii, 268 ill) 1905

Now used by the National Library of South Africa. Accommodates various manuscript collections as well as the offices of the Centre for the Book.

[William MARTINSON, December 2010]


Transcript of an article published in The Veld July 1903.

Cape Town University Buildings Competition.

OUT of the 62 designs sent in in this competition for the University Buildings of the Cape of Good Hope. Mr. Aston Webb, the Assessor, has selected three. No. 35. Mr. W. Hawke. A.R.I.B.A., London ; No. 30, Mr. J. Edwin Forbes, Birmingham ; and No. 24, Messrs. E. W. Wimperis and Hubert S. East, London. The assessor says : " I am of opinion, taking plan and elevation together, and with due regard to the conditions of the competition, that the design marked No. 35 is the best, and entitled to the first premium. It is an excellent design, well and economically planned." The design placed first makes the assembly-hall a semicircle in plan, and places it within a rectangular block of offices. On the Queen Victoria Road front and at the two ends facing Perth Street, the advantage of this arrangement, which has been followed by two or three other authors, is that the hall is set back from the street and the traffic by a set of single-storey offices. The author of the premiated design has, no doubt, produced a well-balanced and symmetrical plan. Opposite Queen Victoria Street there is a range of rooms for the committee and members, besides vice-chancellor's rooms, with a wide entrance-hall in the centre, which gives access directly to the large hall in the middle of its curve. On the south side to Perth Street is a council chamber 42ft. by 21 ft. [12,8 by 6,4 m], with apsidal end, robing-room, an ante-room, stairs at end, &c., and on the north side the range consists of rooms for books and papers, ladies' gallery, committee-room, &c. Within these three blocks of offices, roofed low, the hall or area is placed, 41ft. [12,5m] in radius, with the platform recess, projecting to back wall, and having convenient stairs from rooms in basement and to gallery. A corridor surrounds the hall on the southeast side, which has three exits. At the corners of the hall left by the semicircle, and the lines of offices are two useful areas for light, with prettily contrived fountains, well managed. The hall is covered by a flat dome surmounted by a lantern, and makes an imposing feature in the group of buildings ; the central entrance is carried up higher than the offices and the angles are pronounced by pavilion blocks, which break the lines of the office ranges. The design is graceful in composition and outline, and the scheme is simple and effective. The heating arrangements and stores are placed in the basement. The style selected is French Renaissance freely treated, and without any extravagant features.

(See illustration on right)

(Submitted by Lila Komnick, January 2018)

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.

Writings about this entry

Cole, DI. 2002. The building stones of Cape Town : a geological walking tour. Cape Town: Council for Geoscience. pg 46-47
Duncan, Paul & Proust, Alain. 2013. Hidden Cape Town. Cape Town: Random House Struik. pg 100-108
Picton-Seymour, Désirée. 1989. Historical Buildings in South Africa. Cape Town: Struikhof Publishers. pg 16-17
Walker, Michael. 2012. Early architects of Cape Town and their buildings (1820 - 1926) with postcard illustrations, The. St James: Michael Walker. pg 105-106