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Norwich Union Building - Kwantu Towers
Gqeberha (Port Elizabeth), Eastern Cape

OWEN EATON, ROUX and WOLMARANS: Architect 1974-79

Date:1974-79 : c1992
Type:Commercial
Status:Extant
Street:Corner Market Square and Jetty Street

 


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Coordinates:
33°57'43.43" S 25°37'28.35" E Alt: 25m

Despite the building having certain architectural qualities within its own right, the building was controversial from the onset. This was largely because of its association with the redevelopment of Market Square. Several of the historic buildings facing the Square and also Jetty Street were demolished to make way for the new building and to enable the Square to be leveled. As the square had been a National Monument since 1974, most believed that the Mayors Garden and the facades of the buildings that enclosed the square should have been protected.

The new building was erected on the site of the old Mossenthal, Richardson's and Astor Buildings on the west side of the square.

It is a good example of 1970's modernism in the city and the brickwork was well detailed. However, the bulk and massing of the new Norwich Union failed to acknowledge the context in which the building was set, the plinth being too low and the abutment to the Reserve Bank is awkward. The most unfortunate, crude "Noddyland" façade was added c1992, which extended the lower floors forward onto public land.

(Gerald Humphrey, May 2021)