Built Environment


Southern Africa

What are we doing?

We are running a site which, via the World Wide Web, makes information of interest about the Southern African Built Environment readily accessible.

How are we doing this?

Joanna Walker, on her retirement, lodged a set of 3½" diskettes with an electronically stored copy of the South African Biographical Dictionary of Architects (until 1939) with Roger FISHER in the hope that it would one day be published. The set is lodged with the archives of the Department of Architecture, University of Pretoria.

With Frank Gaylard as webmaster and Roger Fisher as researcher and adviser, this project has been pursued independently as an interactive web-based resource.

This is an on-going project, and has had much by way of contemporary information, illustrative material and additional resources, such as the Lexicon, added.

What you have before you is where we find ourselves now.

In the interim the South African Heritage Resources Agency, where Joanna had been employed, set to work on a project to make the same database available on the web.

They record that:

"The Dictionary of Architects in South Africa was begun in 1984 by Gerhard-Mark van der Waal, Arie Kuijers and Joanna Walker under the auspices of the Human Sciences Research Council.

Dr Van Der Waal and Mr Kuijers had found in the course of their work that a number of architect's names kept recurring, about whom little was known. It was in the attempt to establish more knowledge about the people who designed the buildings that the idea of the dictionary grew.

With the help of a large number of people more information was gathered, as well as the names of a great many more architects.

On the advice of Doreen GREIG, and a donation from GORDON VERHOEF & KRAUSE, the RIBA nomination papers and biographical files in the British Architectural Library, Portland Place, London were systematically scanned in 1985, providing what was probably the most important input of biographical data into the dictionary.

The then assistant at the Institute of South African Architects (Fay Foster) proceeded to put the Institute membership files into order, sorting out the quick from the dead. This was of considerable help and provided another important source of material.

South African architectural and building periodicals were widely used as were the theses of Drs Melanie Hillebrand, Rose Norwich, Professors KEARNEY, RADFORD, Harrop Allin, YUILL, and ROODT and the work of Karel Schoeman, Marilyn Martin, Clive CHIPKIN. A few of the many sources used providing further valuable material.

The publication Buildings of Cape Town and sources in Canada and Australia provided additional data, and the dictionary is particularly indebted to Robert Hill of Canada, editor of the biographical dictionary of Canadian architects."

We of share the same disclaimer, namely that:

This database is a working draft and includes inaccuracies and omissions. We do not take any responsibility for the quality of data held in this database. We are not liable for any actions taken or not taken based on information held in or omitted from this database.

This is continually being expanded and the information maintained with the input of interested academics and their students, and pertinent professional bodies.

For our latest additions to this site see Now up

Our chief heritage consultant is Prof Roger C FISHER.

One of the major contributors to this website is William MARTINSON, he regularly sends beautiful photographs he has taken of buildings as well as photographs and information he has gleaned from books and other sources.

How can you help?

If you can add information to current entries or if you have any information which will enrich and expand this site please Contact us (

What do you think of this site?

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Visit the South African Institute of Architects Website
Visit the University of Pretoria UPSpace Website

Visit the SAIA Mpumalanga Website

Visit the Pretoria Institute for Architecture Website    Visit the Gauteng Institute for Architecture Website
Visit the Namibia Institute of Architects Website
Visit the Heritage South Africa Website Visit the Eastern Cape Institute of Architects Website