Hilton JudinApr 19, 2022
Architecture, State Modernism and Cultural Nationalism in the Apartheid Capital
Hilton Judin's book Architecture, State Modernism and Cultural Nationalism in the Apartheid Capital (Routledge, 2021) is the first comprehensive investigation of the architecture of the apartheid state in the period of rapid economic growth and political repression from 1957 to 1966 when buildings took on an ideological role that was never remote from the increasingly dominant administrative, legislative and policing mechanisms of the regime. It considers how this process reflected the usurpation of a regional modernism and looks to contribute to wider discourses on international postwar modernism in architecture.
Buildings in Pretoria that came to embody ambitions of the apartheid state for industrialization and progress serve as case studies. These were widely acclaimed projects that embodied for apartheid officials the pursuit of modernization but carried latent apprehensions of Afrikaners about their growing economic prospects and cultural estrangement in Africa. It is a less known and marginal story due to the dearth of material and documents buried in archives and untranslated documents. Many of the documents, drawings and photographs in the book are unpublished and include classified material and photographs from the National Nuclear Research Centre, negatives of 1960s from Pretoria News and documents and pamphlets from Afrikaner Broederbond archives.
State architecture became the most iconic public manifestation of an evolving expression of white cultural identity as a new generation of architects in Pretoria took up the challenge of finding form to their prospects and beliefs. It was an opportunistic faith in Afrikaners who urgently needed to entrench their vulnerable and contested position on the African continent. The shift from provincial town to apartheid capital was swift and relentless. Little was left to stand in the way of the ambitions and aim of the state as people were uprooted and forcibly relocated, structures torn down and block upon block of administration towers and slabs erected across Pretoria.
This book will be of great interest to students and scholars of architectural history as well as those with an interest in postcolonial studies, political science, and social anthropology.
Bryan Toepfer, AIA, NCARB, CAPM is the Principal Architect for TOEPFER Architecture, PLLC, an Architecture firm specializing in Residential Architecture and Virtual Reality. He has authored two books, “Contractors CANNOT Build Your House,” and “Six Months Now, ARCHITECT for Life.” He is an Assistant Professor at Alfred State College and has served as the Director of Government Affairs and as the Director of Education for the AIA Rochester Board of Directors. Always eager to help anyone understand the world of Architecture, he hosts the New Books Network – Architecture podcast, is an NCARB Licensing Advisor and helps coach candidates taking the Architectural Registration Exam.