11 February 2020

South Africa: Research on shared architectural heritage

South African and Dutch partners work together to research and share knowledge on shared heritage in South Africa.

Public lecture at the University of Pretoria (photo: Kees Somer).

The ‘Tectonic Wilhelmiens’ project is being implemented within the framework of the Shared Cultural Heritage programme, which promotes international cooperation and the exchange of knowledge and expertise. The project responds to the request by the South African Heritage Resource Agency (SAHRA), the South African counterpart of the Cultural Heritage Agency of the Netherlands (RCE). The goal is to identify and raise awareness of the shared South African-Dutch built heritage in the provinces of Gauteng and the Cape in the period between 1902 and 1961. It also aims to identify potential archival resources that may support further exploration and preservation of this ‘Tectonic Wilhelmiens’ architectural heritage, and to advise curators on issues of conservation and selection.

Ongoing cooperation

The research will result in a publication in October this year, as a sequel to the book ‘Eclectic ZA Wilhelmiens: A Shared Dutch Built Heritage in South Africa’. This edited book of essays focused on the Dutch influence to architecture and infrastructure in South Africa in the second half of the nineteenth century. The upcoming publication will cover the first half of the twentieth century.

Recent developments

In the ‘Tectonic Wilhelmiens’ project, the RCE collaborates with the Universities of Pretoria and Cape Town, Witwatersrand University Johannesburg, the City of Thswane, SAHRA, the National Department of Public Works at Tshwane and the TU Delft. On 29 January a seminar was held at the University of Pretoria to discuss the progress of the project, followed by a public lecture in which all researchers involved presented their findings and latest discoveries. From the Netherlands, Marieke Kuipers and Nicholas Clarke from the TU Delft and Kees Somer from the RCE participated in this seminar and lecture.