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Lucerne Mansions
Johannesburg, Gauteng

STUCKE and HARRISON: Architect

Street:De Villiers/King George St

(SAB Apr 1934: xxxvii)

Cumming-George 1934.

AT THE beginning of the 20th century, a group of single-storeyed buildings roofed with iron was erected at the corner of De Villiers and King George Streets, and during the intervening years they served a variety of tenants, from watchmakers to dog fanciers. Whilst all around them structures rose higher and higher with the growth of this amazing city, this relic of the Boer War days remained unaltered, looking more and more out of place amongst its modern surroundings.

The anomaly has now been corrected. On this stand, with a frontage of over 100 feet (30,5m) to both De Villiers and King George Streets, rises an eight storey building which is worthy in every way to be a monument to the architecture of 1934.

Its position is unique. Standing at the gateway of the city from the north, it partakes of the character both of city and suburbs, and harmonises business with home life. The ground floor fronting on King George Street is given over to shops designed in such a manner that they are bound to set the standard for the vicinity. Above these and entered from De Villiers Street rise seven storeys of flats, sixty-six in all. There are nine flats on each floor, five one-roomed flats and four two-roomed flats, each complete with its own hall, bathroom and kitchen, and four of them having projecting balconies.

The rooms are large and airy, 18' 0" x 13' 6" (5,5m x 4.1m) with high ceilings and large plate-glass windows in metal frames. The floors of these rooms as well as of the halls and kitchens are of wood parquet. Each living-room is warmed by an electric fire set in a surround of polished sycamore, mahogany, or bird's-eye maple and flanked with bookcases of the same woods.

The bathrooms are just what bathrooms should be: white-tiled walls, white-enamelled woodwork, cork floors, chromium-plated taps and handles and fittings of the highest grade. The baths are full-sized and are built-in with tiles ; the basins have mirrored cupboards above them, and the sanitary fittings are served by low-level cisterns with silent flushes. The kitchens should please the most fastidious housewife, in sparkling cleanliness they match the bathrooms and have commodious dressers in white enamel, refrigerators, electric stoves, and plenty of cupboard space under the sink tops which have been made longer than usual to serve as tables.

The floors are reached by two automatic lifts. A ninety-foot borehole yields an abundant supply of good water which is lifted by an electrically controlled pump into tanks on the roof. Particular attention has been paid to the hot-water system, and a plentiful supply is assured to all parts of the building at any time of the day and night.

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

Cumming-George, L. 1934. Architecture in South Africa - Volume Two. Cape Town: The Speciality Press of S.A. Ltd.. pg 38
van der Waal, Gerhard-Mark. 1987. From Mining Camp to Metropolis - The buildings of Johannesburg 1886-1940. Pretoria: Human Sciences Research Council. pg 207