This section is from the book "Modern Buildings, Their Planning, Construction And Equipment Vol6", by G. A. T. Middleton. Also available from Amazon: Modern Buildings.
The treatment of street verandahs and balconies in the past has been anything but satisfactory, but more uniformity of proportion is now probable, owing to the local building regulations being more definite as regards heights and sizes of columns, fascias, cornices, etc.
In one or two of the office buildings illustrated a development of office planning peculiarly adapted to the local conditions and climate will be noticed, namely, the central open court, with covered corridors round it, from which the various offices and rooms are entered. There is no question that this is a very suitable and appropriate arrangement, and capable of charming achitectural treatment at small expense.
Fig. 293, for instance, illustrates the South African Mutual Buildings, Port Elizabeth, C.C., designed by Mr. W. H. Stucke, A.R.I.B.A., which is a large block of buildings cleverly planned on an awkwardly steep site, and arranged for offices, shops, and cellars, and a large cafe in the basement. A reference to the section will enable readers to fully understand the plans, and appreciate the manner in which the various flights of steps are arranged to make the way through as easy as possible. The arcade being only partly covered over, makes for coolness without excessive dust in the high winds. The sanitary passage previously referred to will be noticed on the right or east side of the south ground plan.
On the third floor four bathrooms are planned for use in the event of certain rooms being let as chambers or suites of living rooms.
The exterior has not been illustrated as, although massive and dignified, it is not nearly so interesting or worthy of study as the admirable interior arrangements.
Fig. 294 shows the South African Mutual Buildings, Durban, Natal. These are very similar in treatment and admirably arranged, the very utmost being made of the space at disposal without any sacrifice of convenience and light and air. Perhaps a little more sanitary accommodation would have been advisable, and the awkward entrance to the lavatories should have been avoided.
Great care has been taken to keep as many windows as possible away from the direct sunlight. The shallow loggias shown, by means of which this is effected, give much more play of light and shade externally than is usually possible.
The Southern Life Assurance Company's Branch Building, Bloemfontein, O.R.C., designed by Messrs. Parker & Forsyth, of Cape Town, is illustrated in Fig. 295. The building has been erected mostly as an investment for the company's funds, and the company's offices occupy but a small portion of the first floor, the ground and remaining floors being arranged entirely for letting purposes.
The general arrangement of plan is simple and calls for no comment, the first and second floors being similar in arrangement, except that the central part of first floor at front is occupied by the company; and the third floor is arranged in suites of small flats of two rooms each, the end wings at back containing bathroom and w.c. accommodation.
Carlton Buildings-Cape Town.
Ground Floor Plan.
First Floor Plan.
Second Floor Plan.
Third Floor Plan.
Fourth Floor Plan.
The front is built of freestone, a good stone being obtainable in many parts of the Orange River Colony, the front slope of roof being covered with green slates.
A small block of offices and shops, erected from the plans of the same architects on a somewhat cramped and narrow site in the centre of Cape Town, is shown in Fig. 296. The ground has been well utilised and the utmost possible accommodation provided; as will be seen, all the lavatory accommodation has been arranged on the two upper floors.
The exterior, although only executed in brickwork cemented and coloured, is very effective, the detail being particularly refined and pleasing and suitable to the material. The roofs in sight are covered with dark red English tiles.
Fig. 297 shows Carlton Buildings, Cape Town, designed by Mr. C. H. Smith, A.R.I.B.A.
The site is somewhat irregular, and the planning complicated by additional accommodation having to be provided for the Colonial Orphan Chambers existing buildings.
Shops, Offices, and other Town Buildings 175
A somewhat remarkable point about the building is, that although it appears and is only one block, it is under a dual ownership, a dotted dividing line on the first-floor plan showing the division. The awkward site has necessitated the use of a considerable amount of girder and stanchion work, and has made the lighting problem somewhat difficult.
The front is built of local mountain stone with red Dumfries dressings. The roof and hoods over first-floor windows are tiled, and all the windows, shop fronts, doors, etc., are in teak.
Fig. 298 shows the Joubert Park Mansions, Johannesburg, designed by Messrs. A. & W. Reid & East.
This block is situated on a fine site in Johannesburg, overlooking Joubert Park, and is rather a good example of the small blocks of flats of which Johannesburg contains more than are necessary for its present population.
The ground floor, except for entrance hall, stairs, and lift to flats, and the necessary light area and sanitary passage, is entirely taken up with shops and bar, each shop having ample cellarage under, while the bar has a large billiard saloon in the basement.
Each suite of rooms has its own bathroom, in most cases entered direct from bedroom, and the arrangements generally are well adapted to the needs of that considerable portion of the inhabitants of Johannesburg who "board" at convenient restaurants on monthly terms, and only require living and sleeping accommodation.
The fronts are finished in cement as usual and whitened, the face brickwork in gables being a rather bright red finished with struck joints.
Fig. 299 shows a scheme for a rather narrow and deep site in Cape Town. In the planning, advantage was taken of all the neighbouring areas and a narrow right of way at left of site to the benefit both of the proprietors and surrounding owners.
The ground, basement, and part of first floor were arranged for the use of a large insurance company, the remainder of building either letting singly as offices or as suites with resident caretakers' quarters on the fourth floor. By carrying up part of the ground floor general office, extra clerking space was obtained, easily supervised, and good ventilation and lighting to main office was assured.
The front (Fig. 300) was designed for stone used in two colours in broad masses of light grey and cream on a dark grey unpolished granite base (carried up to transom of ground-floor door and windows), and all the joinery is of hard wood of various kinds.
The window openings were in all cases as deeply recessed as possible, as shutters or sun-blinds were not desired.
Fig. 301 shows the Board of Executors Buildings, Bloemfontein, O.R.C., designed by Messrs. Stucke & Harrison. This little building has a very picturesque appearance, the external staircase being an effective feature and grouping well with the loggia on the other frontage. The ground floor is entirely occupied by the offices, etc., of the Board of Executors, the first floor being utilised for offices, together with a tearoom and kitchen, etc., appertaining thereto.
The premises of the National Bank of South Africa, Bloemfontein, O.R.C., shown in Fig. 302, have been erected on an important corner site in Bloemfontein, from the designs of Messrs. A. & W. Reid, and afford accommodation for about ten clerks, besides manager, accountant, etc. The shop at side of the banking chamber is so arranged that it can at any time be thrown into the bank for an increased clerical staff.
The banking chamber has accommodation for two tellers and a bill clerk in separate compartments, and the accountant's office has been so placed on a higher level that he can command the whole of the counter and staff, the cage compartment system, common on the European continent, being used in preference to the English open counter.
Part of the basement is utilised as a strong-room, approached by a fireproof staircase, whilst a hand lift is provided for conveyance of books, etc., to and from the strong-room.
The first floor rooms are used as bedrooms for the staff, and are provided with lavatory and bath accommodation.