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Manners Mansions
Johannesburg, Gauteng

EMLEY and WILLIAMSON: Architect
Frederick WILLIAMSON: Design Architect

Date:1939
Type:Flats with shops to street
Status:Extant
Street:Jeppe St

 


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Coordinates:
26°12'12.27" S 28°02'10.06" E Alt: 1729m

PEARSE's obituary for Williamson lists this work as being among the most important buildings in Johannesburg.

Manners Mansions is a massive fourteen-storey building, designed by Anstey's architects, EMLEY & WILLIAMSON, but in a substantially different style. It ignores, in a quintessentially Johannesburg manner, any attempt at architectural compatibility with its Anstey's neighbour at an important intersection. One can imagine how this opportunity would have been handled in a great age of town building but this has little relevance to the Johannesburg situation. Anstey's is a skyscraper with basically cubic setbacks; Manners Mansions is a building with rounded Mendelsohnian forms and a very pronounced axial symmetry concentrated on a main tower splayed to the corner. Both buildings are set back from lower-level podiums (which respond to each other with rounded corners). It is these setbacks that open up the view of the sky in an extraordinary manner.

At the pavement level on the Manners Mansions corner is Smokers' Corner, the rounded, island corner-shop that was the venue for generations of cigarette and pipe-smokers. When Manners Mansions was in its pristine state, the main entrance foyer to the building contained important murals by Alfred Palmer, depicting the mine-dump industrial landscape of the Witwatersrand.

[CHIPKIN, CLIVE M. 1993. Johannesburg Style Architecture & Society. Cape Town: David Philip Publishers (Pty) Ltd. p. 149.]

Transcription of Blue Plaque:

JOHANNESBURG CITY HERITAGE

MANNERS MANSIONS

The building is named after Sir George Manners, a director of
African City Properties Trust, the company that built it in 1937. It
complements Ansteys, designed by the same architects, Emley and
Williamson. The smooth curves and fluid form minimise wind
resistance - so important to the design of cars, ships and aircraft in
those days. The fluted surface adds to sense of vertical
progression. The apartment block is set back from the corner to
allow maximum exposure to the sky and light. The rounded
island shop was Smoker's Corner, the windows
displaying a fine array of pipes and
Havana cigars.

(Source: The Heritage Portal)


Writings about this entry

Chipkin, Clive M. 1993. Johannesburg Style - Architecture & Society 1880s - 1960s. Cape Town: David Phillip. pg 149
van der Waal, Gerhard-Mark. 1987. From Mining Camp to Metropolis - The buildings of Johannesburg 1886-1940. Pretoria: Human Sciences Research Council. pg 211