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Reserve Bank
Cape Town, Western Cape

James MORRIS: Architect



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33°55'27.97" S 18°25'10.63" E Alt: 34m

Won comp, now Board of Executors bldg (AB&E Jul 1926:1; SAB Jul 1928:47)

Cumming-George 1933

THIS building, which stands at the corner of St. George's and Wale Streets, Cape Town, and completed in the early part of 1932, was erected from designs by Mr. Morris, the result of a public competition open to the architectural profession throughout the Union of South Africa.

Externally the building is very impressive. The work is in granite throughout and is well handled, full advantage being taken of the strength of this material. The base of the building, as will be noted, develops to its fullest extent this sense of great and rugged strength.

The bronze work, which is a particularly pleasing feature of this building, was all designed by the architect, the various parts being modelled under his supervision and afterwards sent to the founders to enable this bronze work to be cast.

The banking hall is a large and dignified apartment with a vault lengthwise in the centre giving top lighting through bronzed grilles. This central portion is carried on four slightly fluted columns in Portuguese Skyros marble. The Banking Hall is in plan a Greek cross.

The floor of the Banking Hall is laid out in bands and panels in South African hardwoods in an effective manner. All the fittings are in toned figured teak; the wood for these has all been carefully matched, which gives great richness and interest to this work. All the joinery, in fact, throughout the building is in teak, the large single panels to the doors also being charmingly figured. All the hardware is in a special white alloy somewhat akin to the old Dutch witte koper.

The three top floors of the building are intended for tenants, these being served by a modern high-speed self-levelling lift. The rest of the building, that is the ground floor where the Banking Hall and other offices of the Bank are situated, along with the vaults in the basement, and certain offices on the first floor, are occupied by the Bank.


2013 - Adaptively re-used with modern multi-story building inserted into courtyard formed by L-shaped plan of original corner building.

Writings about this entry

Cole, DI. 2002. The building stones of Cape Town : a geological walking tour. Cape Town: Council for Geoscience. pg 58-59
Crump, Alan & Van Niekerk, Raymund. 1988. Public sculptures & reliefs Cape Town. Cape Town: Clifton Publications. pg 34
Cumming-George, L. 1933. Architecture in South Africa - Volume One. Cape Town: The Speciality Press of S.A. Ltd.. pg 90-92
Duncan, Paul & Proust, Alain. 2013. Hidden Cape Town. Cape Town: Random House Struik. pg 96-99
Greig, Doreen. 1971. A Guide to Architecture in South Africa. Cape Town: Howard Timmins. pg 100
Rennie, John for CPIA. 1978. The Buildings of Central Cape Town 1978. Volume Two : Catalogue. Cape Town: Cape Provincial Institute of Architects. pg 209 item 65.34
Shorten, John R. 1963. Cape Town : A record of the Mother City from the earliest days to the present. Cape Town: JR Shorten in association with Shorten and Smith Publications. pg 290 ill