History of the School

The Department strives to build a great future, but is does so in acknowledgement of a proud past. 

Soon after the Transvaal University College became the University of Pretoria, a course in Architecture was instituted in 1931 and taught in collaboration with WITS, who awarded the degree.

The Department of Architecture at the University of Pretoria became an independent institution in 1943 under leadership of Prof AL Meiring  - he appointed a young, dynamic staff. Gordon MacIntosh, member of the Zero Hour group, brought an avant garde spirit and the ideals of Modernism, especially also that of Le Corbusier and the allied European social revolution in architecture, into our midst.  Meiring also drew in Norman Eaton into the select corps of lecturers.  Additionally, he appointed the young and innovative Hellmut Stauch, fresh from the Itten school and with design experience under leading German Modernists including Gropius. Other interesting appointees were that of Cole Bowen, Basil South and Strauss Brink – all innovative, non-conformist personalities, and good architects.  A strong, innovative regional Modernist style emerged from this young, culturally heterogenous Department. The incredible group of founding individuals forged a school in which a new, local architecture was devised, an architecture that was pioneering, free and daring - it focussed on the ontology and fundamentals of architecture, embraced both the venustas and utilitas of architecture, achieved a good balance between theory and praxis, and boldly expressed the Modernist belief in the power that architecture can have in shaping a society and facilitating and supporting social change.

The ethos that was started by the pioneers was nurtured by the heads of school that followed.  Prof Alewyn Burger was instrumental in formalising the vision and body of knowledge of the early period, and appointing more innovative and critical thinkers and excellent designers and building scientists, including inter alia Karl Gerneke, Joe Kemp, Charles Swanepoel, Hans Wegelin, Wynand Smit, Allan Konya, Schalk le Roux and Marlene Huystek.  Prof Burger was in turn followed by Professors Dieter Holm, Schalk Le Roux, ‘Ora Joubert, acting head Fisher and current head Karel Bakker, each with their interesting and dynamic staff compliments.

A Chair in Landscape Architecture was initiated at UP in 1971 under Prof Roelf Botha, with the Department coming into being in 1987 under Prof Michael Murphy, followed by Prof Willem Van Riet in 1988.  In the year of 1997 the Department of Landscape Architecture was incorporated into the Department of Architecture.  In 1999 the B.Home-Econ(Int) degree, initiated by Mr Hennie Reynders at the Department of Home Economics, was discontinued and the Department of Architecture starts a programme in Interior Design. 

The Department is one of few institutions in the world that harbor the three disciplines of Architecture, Interior Design and Landscape Architecture under one roof, and who capitalizes on the opportunities and benefits that result from this.

In 2002 the Department broke new ground in offering the professional degrees on Magister level. 

The Department has continued to grow from strength to strength.  It has the highest qualified contingent of staff of any Department in the country, with consistently good results in teaching and quality outputs in research; It has delivered a consistently excellent body of graduates that have made a large impact in practice and academia.

Published by Leon Pienaar

Copyright © University of Pretoria 2021. All rights reserved.

FAQ's Email Us Virtual Campus Share Cookie Preferences