Philadelphia School (SA)


In South Africa the influence of Louis Kahn was dominant in the late sixties through to the eighties and beyond of the C20, brought to the South African shores by those graduates who went on to do post graduate study in Pennsylvania when Kahn headed up the School of Architecture there.

Among South African architects who followed in Kahn's footsteps, the group included those who, having obtained a first degree in architecture locally during the late 1950s and the early 1960s, proceeded to the University of Pennsylvania to obtain a master's qualification. The University of Pennsylvania was especially alluring for those interested in Kahn's work since he had become professor and chief critic of architectural design in the Master's Programme in 1957.

Julian BEINART was instrumental in encouraging Wilhelm MEYER and Anthony LANGE to pursue post graduate studies in the USA after a chance meeting with the two on the beach at Plettenberg Bay where they, as friends, were holidaying after recently graduating.

Wilhelm O MEYER went in 1960, and his future partners, Francois PIENAAR and Floris SMITH, followed in 1967. Glen GALLAGHER studied under Kahn in 1960. Other South Africans who studied under Kahn are Roelof UYTENBOGAARDT, Danie THERON and Jack DIAMOND. It was not only these South African architects studying in Pennsylvania who fell under Kahn's influence. There were also South Africans who studied his designs and ideas by means of various publications, most notably Bannie BRITZ, a grouping that was sometimes referred to as the 'Kahn Disciples'.

The graduates made their influence felt through association with the Urban Action Group (1967), an alliance set up so as to not have the energies derived from their studies under Kahn dissipate. They became formative as teachers at Wits as part of the Urban Action Teaching Group (1971-2). They were later to start a Z-folder journal Credo which featured and disseminated the works of the Pennsylvania graduates.

The major South African work of Kahn influence was MEYER with VAN WIJK's Rand Afrikaans University (now University of Johannesburg) in Aukland Park, Johannesburg.

Buildings on this website in Philadelphia School (SA) style