Little Brazil


In the years directly following the Second World War (1939-1945) Expressionist Modernism became popular on the subcontinent, fired by the Brazil Builds exhibition (1943) and the subsequent publication of the same name. R StC LIGHTFOOT was elected President-in-Chief of the Institute of South African Architects (ISAA) in 1946. In his acceptance speech, he referred enthusiastically to Brazil Builds, an influential publication at the time, and to his own visit to Brazil. It was evident that many South Africans were looking forward to a building programme which would reflect the wholeheartedness of Brazil's approach to architecture and building immediately postwar. Graduates from the architectural schools of the Witwatersrand and Pretoria (established 1943) had a particular affinity for the style and the Highveld became a 'Little Brazil', a style term used by Chipkin (1993) derived from Pevsner's (1953) observation that Johannesburg was 'a little Brazil' within the Commonwealth'. The appellation has expanded to all southern African architecture of the 1950s and 60s, which reflects Brazilian influence. The idiom is most flamboyant in the then Portuguese colonies of Angola and Mozambique, particularly in Lourenço Marques (now Maputo), Pancho GUEDES (1925-) being its distinguished exponent. Typified by buildings which were overtly styled against sun penetration - exaggerated louvers, brise soleils and egg-crate sun-guards, the first being Helmut STAUCH's Meat Board Building (1952).

Buildings on this website in Little Brazil style

Killarney Hills: n.d.. Killarney, Johannesburg, Gauteng
Las Vegas: pre 1958. Durban, KwaZulu-Natal
Meat Board Building: 1952. Tshwane (Pretoria), Gauteng
North-West University, Konservatorium - Conservatoire of Music: 1960. Potchefstroom, North West
Norwich House: 1956. Cape Town, Western Cape
SABC Building: 1955. Sea Point, Cape Town, Western Cape
University of Pretoria, Aula and Rautenbach Hall: 1958. Tshwane (Pretoria), Gauteng