The architecture of South Africa mirrors the vast ethnic and cultural diversity of the country and its historical colonial period. In addition, influences from other distant countries have contributed to the variety of the South African architectural landscape.
Herbert Baker, among the country’s most influential architects, designed the Union Buildings in Pretoria. Other buildings of note include the Rhodes memorial and St George’s Cathedral in Cape Town, and St John’s College in Johannesburg.
Cape Dutch architecture was prominent in the early days (17th century) of the Cape Colony, and the name derives from the fact that the initial settlers of the Cape were primarily Dutch. The style has roots in medieval Holland, Germany, France and Indonesia. Houses in this style have a distinctive and recognizable design, with a prominent feature being the grand, ornately rounded gables, reminiscent of features in townhouses of Amsterdam built in the Dutch style.
The rural landscape of South Africa is populated with traditional and European-influenced African architecture.
The Union Buildings form the official seat of the South African Government and also house the offices of the President of South Africa. The imposing buildings are located in Pretoria, atop Meintjieskop at the northern end of Arcadia, close to historic Church Square and the Voortrekker Monument. The large gardens of the Buildings are nestled between Government Avenue, Vermeulen Street East, Church Street, the R104 and Blackwood Street. Fairview Avenue is a closed road where only officials can enter to the Union Buildings. Though not in the centre of Pretoria, the Union Buildings occupy the highest point of Pretoria, and constitute a South African national heritage site.
The Buildings are one of the centres of political life in South Africa; “The Buildings” and “Arcadia” have become metonyms for the South African government. It has become an iconic landmark of Pretoria and South Africa in general, and is one of the most popular tourist attractions in the city and an emblem of democracy.
The Buildings are the location of presidential inaugurations.
Cape Dutch architecture
Cape Dutch architecture is a traditional Afrikaner architectural style found mostly in the Western Cape of South Africa. The style was prominent in the early days (17th century) of the Cape Colony, and the name derives from the fact that the initial settlers of the Cape were primarily Dutch. The style has roots in medieval Netherlands, Germany, France and Indonesia.
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