As a family, we love to travel around South Africa. Not only to visit our beautiful natural wonders but also some pretty cool architectural masterpieces. As an architect in South Africa, I appreciate our unique environment in the creation of the masterpieces that are well worth a visit. Here are a few of my favourite architectural hot spots in South Africa.
Situated in the Cape’s Breede Valley. The Bosjes Kapel unusual and elegant design complements the surrounding mountain range. Created by Steyn Studio in London, the chapel is open to the public.
Arrival, via a narrow path over the water, also heightens the experience, imparting a level of tension and concentration to the procession. The floating roof is a biblical reference to Psalm 36:7: “How priceless is your unfailing love, O God! People take refuge in the shadow of your wings.”
From its interior, you can marvel at the sweeping hills and valleys. The reflective pool in the front courtyard gives the building the illusion of weightlessness.
Bosjes Kapel is a prime example of how dazzling architectural additions to the landscape can create a destination, making a place through its mere presence, but also in the way that it mediates people’s experience of the spirit of place.
The natural locale transforms cues from traditional Cape Dutch architecture to create a contemporary SA icon.
Located on the highly visible corner of Jellicoe and Jan Smuts in Rosebank, it marks a prominent public intervention within the existing urban fabric.
Its undulating steel façade hugs the corner, creating a visually interesting and permeable urban edge while beckoning patrons to explore the spaces within.
Open to the public, the gallery uses its prominence to create an interest in art. Art has evolved, and this gallery sets out to include various media, such as music, film, large scale sculpture and the architecture itself.
The architecture is therefore a sculptural artwork, moulding itself around the art it contains.
Photo credit: Everard Read and Peter Yuill from TooSocial @Toosocialsa
The Erasmus Castle, also known as ‘The Haunted House’ or “Die Spookhuis” is a Victorian Art Nouveau mansion now privately owned by Armscor.
Public tours and cultural gatherings at the premises can be arranged by appointment only. Construction commenced in 1892 and was completed in 1903. It was built in the Stick style and is a combination of the Gothic Revival Pointed (the 1840s) and the Queen Anne (1880-1910) styles.
It is well worth the effort to view the well-preserved interior, and perhaps encounter the resident ghost, known for leaving lights lit and moaning at night.
The Chapel of Light
A small, low-budget project by architects Morne Pienaar and Chris Wilkinson, built at the Vaal University of Technology in Vanderbijl Park, The Chapel appears to make something out of nothing through sheer will.
The semi-circular tower and cross that reaches upwards creates the Chapel Beacon.
The beacon instinctively signals the entrance with the tower and roof extensions. The materials and shapes used are modest, but people are intuitively drawn towards the Chapel.
By creating a series of spatial changes, the visitor experiences different phases of arrival. The arrival path changes your mindset as you make your way to the inner sanctuary.
Although there are no views to the outside, the inner sanctuary creates a powerful and peaceful contemplative shelter through inspired contrast with its context.
The Big Pineapple
The World’s largest pineapple building, 17 meters tall in Bathurst, South Africa. Although Bathurst is one of the smallest municipalities in South Africa it is possibly one of the most interesting. The area is populated by smallholder farmers.
The smallholder farmers account for 70% of South Africa’s pineapple production. The Big Pineapple is proof of Bathurst’s sustainable production process.
On the ground floor of The Big Pineapple is a museum, highlighting its history along with a gift shop selling a variety of pineapple products. The Big Pineapple is open to the public from 9 to 5 daily.
Even without The Big Pineapple, Bathurst boasts many tourist attractions including but not limited to the Oldest Licensed Pub in South Africa, The Bradshaw’s Mill built by the British Settler, Samuel Bradshaw in 1821, and the Bathurst Toposcope from where you can see the Great Fish River, The Gamtoos Valley floodplain and other spectacular sights.