17 November 2010 by Chris Marais

10 + Years +100 Buildings

I picked up “10 + Years + 100 Buildings: Architecture in a Democratic South Africa” for a friend who is graduating as an architect. It was edited by Ora Joubert and is a critical survey of post-apartheid architecture.

I like it so much that I’m going to get another copy to keep for myself. And while my endorsement is relatively unimportant, the book did win the Corobrick South African Institute of Architects (SAIA) Award for excellence, along with a merit award.

This endorsement carries a little more weight as typically this prize goes to a building.  SAIA, however, decided that the book is a significant enough contribution to architecture in South Africa to warrant the recognition.

It’s full of beautiful photographs that collectively demonstrate how South African architects are responding to changes in South Africa in a post-apartheid context. It’s also a multi-faceted critique of a comprehensive range of buildings that are socially or institutionally significant. I felt proud to recognise the buildings in the book and eager to visit ones I haven’t seen yet.

It also made me excited about the future of architecture in South Africa.

It’s also a multi-faceted critique of a comprehensive range of buildings that are socially or institutionally significant. I felt proud to recognise the buildings in the book and eager to visit ones I haven’t seen yet.

That’s because, along with being an important repository of information, it’s the kind of book that sets the bar at a moment in history. It takes stock and says “here we are”.

When a book like this is published, in any field really, there is no going back, only forward. And in this case, its towards a sophisticated architectural aesthetic rooted in the country’s history and culture, a far cry from European imitations or clichéd ‘African’ designs that I, quite frankly, find embarrassingly out of place in South Africa.

SAIA’s verdict on the book read as follows: “The pages of this volume record conversations by South African architects among themselves at the highest critical level. It is wide-ranging in its subject matter, offers multiple perspectives and is presented in a manner that makes it accessible to a wide public, both here and abroad. The panel was unanimous in its view that as a distinctive, comprehensive and eloquent self-reflection by South African architects on South African architecture at this time of change, the book deserves an award of merit. It was also of the view that the book fully justified its audacity and qualified for an award of excellence.”

It’s available from the publisher, online at Kalahari.net and at South Africa’s larger bookstores.

Category: Culture & History

comments powered by Disqus