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10 joburg architectural treasures

Karlien Thomashoff, founding member of Thomashoff + Partner Architects and designer of artist Roelof Petrus van Wyk's spectacular glass-and-steel home (see our September 2016 issue), is constantly re-imagining what it means to live here now. After completing her studies at the University of Pretoria, Karlien and her team have tackled many projects – from small-scale living builds to large-scale urban developments. We caught up with her to find out about the Joburg buildings and architectural developments that most inspire her.

Courtyards on Oxford

Courtyards on Oford 'This housing complex was designed by StudioMAS and has inspired me since its completion in 2005. The simplicity of the concept, the complete integration with the landscape, the wonderful textures, and the spatial qualities were superbly executed. What I really enjoy is how the complex has aged and blended with the landscape over the years.'

Patidar Mansions

Patidar Mansions 'The Patidar Mansions, designed by Wilhelm Pabst in 1947, is a beautiful block of flats on the corner of President and Kort Streets. The building turns the corner elegantly and playfully. With its recessing and projecting structural elements, it's a great example of African Expressionist architecture in an urban context.'

Aiton Court (pre-renovation)

aiten-court-heritage-3 'Designed in 1937 by Angus Stewart and Bernard Cooke, this small block of flats in Hillbrow is a wonderful example of Modernist architecture, with its strip windows and roof terrace. I find the discipline of the facade and the visual effect of the modular steel windows and projecting balconies especially inspiring.'

Bethesda Methodist Church

bethesda 'The Bethesda Methodist Church in Houghton Estate is a fascinating structure. The unique form of the main hall and the adjacent tower calls to mind the architecture of the Brazilian Second Wave that influenced the architects of South Africa in the 1950s and 1960s.'

House Martienssen

House Martienssen 'Built in 1939, House Martienssen in Greenside (renowned South African architect Rex Martienssen’s own residence) is one of the best examples of Modernist architecture in South Africa. The design is simple and elegant, and utilises local materials effectively. The projecting plastered frame around the recessed facebrick wall lifts the building from the ground - the whole structure seems to float above the landscape.'

Whitehall Court

Whitehall Court Killarney 'Whitehall Court in Killarney was designed by John Moffat in 1925. This proud building offers a spatial experience that is unmatched. Once you've moved through the cool high-volume reception foyer and up the formal staircase, you are met with an explosion of greenery in the symmetrically laid-out courtyard, which is framed by wide, sunny verandas that serve as thresholds to the quiet private apartments.'

Soccer City Stadium

Soccer City 'This is one of my favourite structures in South Africa, designed by HOK Sport (renamed Populous in January 2009) and Boogertman + Partners. The stadium was designed with finesse, is superbly executed from a functional point of view, and is one of the most beautiful and inspiring spaces I have experienced.'

The Top Star Drive-In

TopStar Drive-in 'The Top Star Drive-In was situated on top of Joburg’s largest mine dumps. The outdoor cinema was closed down in 2008 after hosting movie shows with the Joburg skyline as a backdrop for years - an intriguing concept that has inspired me for a long time.'


POD iDlaDla 'The POD-iDLADLA nano home, which was designed by Almeida T/A Collaborate, is fun, tiny, modular, experimental and sustainable. We need more examples of experimental work in South Africa to inspire and inform designers.'

The Courtyards

Courtyard 'Designed by Michael Sutton in 1969, these townhouses in Craighall Park are simple, sculptural and very well designed spatially. The successful interaction of internal and external spaces, combined with the subtle sculptural qualities, is admirable.'

See our September 2016 issue to view artist Roelof Petrus van Wyk's fascinating home, which was designed by Karlien.

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