Law Chambers, Parliament Street, Pretoria City Centre, Tshwane

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GISKEY
Condition
Exterior – Good
Interior – Unknown
Date of origin
Work on the Building started in 1890. Building complete in 1893
Previous names
Old Law Chambers
Place
West Façade, Church Square
Erf no. 365
Street
Parliament Street
Town
Pretoria
Magisterial district
Pretoria
Province
Gauteng
Country
South Africa
GPS coordinates
25°44'47.4" S,
28°11'17.52" E
Planning authority name
City of Tshwane Metropolitan Municipality
Architect/Firm
Phillip, Carmichael & Murray (Johannesburg Based)
Project architect/Designer
Marshall Phillip
Commissioning owner
African Board of Executers and Trust Company
Current owner
Unknown
Current occupant
Unknown
Previous uses
- Law Firms and Offices (Law and Advocate Rooms) (Olivier 1984)
- Department of Hospital Services Sub Division Planning (Olivier 1984)
- Accommodation (Olivier 1984)
- State Service offices (Olivier 1984)
Current use
Currently being used as Offices, but the Firm or Company is unknown.


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Contents

[edit] Significance

The Law Chambers is the oldest building on the western façade of and the second oldest building in Church Square. The western façade as a whole is seen as being vital to South African heritage as it houses some of the oldest buildings in South Africa; The Law Chambers contributes a big part to this uniqueness of the western façade. This building is significant due to the fact that it was designed by one of the top architects of that time and it is a last testimony to his work as none of his other work remains (Olivier 1984). This building is also significant as an example of its time.

[edit] Current known heritage status

According to Section 34 of the National Heritage Resources Act the Law Chambers does have Heritage Status not to be physically affected unless authorization is given through a final HIA submission to the SAHRA (Cultmatrix, 2009:4).

The Act protecting the building is The Church Square, Pretoria, Development Amendment Act (House of Assembly Act 35/1988), which states that

Demolitions, alterations, new work and other changes within protected precinct (bordered by Andries, Pretorius, Bosman and Vermeulen streets) must be authorised by Minister of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs (Cultmatrix, 2009:5).

[edit] Possible interested and affected parties

[edit] History

The property on which The Law Chambers are placed was divided in many different properties before becoming one collective whole. These subdivided properties passed ownership between private and public interests such as The Law Chambers executors, Poynton and The Transvaal executors (Olivier 1984). Eventually after 1974 the government bought all the properties as one and has owned it since then (Olivier 1984). The building erected in 1893 was built to replace the offices of The Transvaal Board of Executers and other Law Firms whose offices were previously on the site. This building also replaced the offices of J.H.E. Bal and J.D. Celliers whose occupation is unknown (Olivier 1984). Philip Marshall was of Scottish origin, and first lived in the Cape Colony before he made his way up to the Transvaal region (Olivier 1984). Before he started practicing architecture he was an engineer on various mines. He is also known for works such as Transvaal Goldfields Building (Olivier 1984). The corner stone of the building was laid by Commander General P.J. Joubert, who was known as Paul Kruger’s opposition (Picton-Seymour, 1989:166). The only known fact gathered on the builder was that he was a Portuguese masonry worker. This building became the main offices for all the big lawyers of the city (Olivier 1984).

[edit] Description of site and/or structures and/or interior spaces

Site:
The Law Chambers is found on the western façade of Church Square in Parliament Street. The ground on which it stands was previously comprised of smaller properties but these were all consolidated (Olivier 1984). Currently it is built up all around the building and in front of the building is parking space. Neighboring buildings are The Café Riche Building on the right hand side and The Ou Nederlandse Bank Building on the left hand side.

Exterior of Building:
The Law Chambers are an example of Dutch and Flemish Renaissance building and motifs found underneath the gables are noted as Art Nouveau decoration (Le Roux 1990:75). The Materials on the exterior consist of a sandstone (ground floor and entrance) and unplastered red Kirkness brick (first floor and all other walls) façade (Olivier 1984). The roof is made of corrugated iron roof sheeting. A simple breakdown of the features on the façade goes as follows starting at the top with the gables: The building consists of three convex-concave gables with sandstone moulding and segmental pediments on the first and the third gables (outside). Urn type decorations are rested on pedestals at the bottom of the gables. Cornices are found throughout the façade, as to define the window frames and to indicate the floors on the façade. They are Cavetto moulded and made up of sandstone. Decorative moulding on the building is found above the door (Guilloche moulding) and above the first storey windows (leaf motif moulding). Between the first and ground floor a sandstone parget is found just above the doorway, with a front to back ‘C’ details. Arches on the façade are found around the door, made of sandstone, and around the first floor windows, made of red brick and sandstone. All arches are semi-circular. The wrought iron gate was imported from Holland (Olivier 1984). The architrave is also made of sandstone and has a little pilaster detail. Lastly the Corps Avant consists of big sandstone slabs.

Interior of Building:
The interior is said to resemble the asymmetrical layout of the front façade (Olivier 1984). Flooring consists of concrete floors that are covered with clay tiles (entrance foyer), wooden plank flooring (corridors and offices) and carpet (corridors and offices), stairs are made of wood but the type is unknown (Olivier 1984). Ceilings consist of wooden planks (Welsh Pine), doors and windows are made of Burmese teak. Door types consist of solid wood and with glass inserts, interior doors and frames are painted white. Windows are sash windows and originally had lead glass inserted, how much of this glass remains is unknown (Olivier 1984). The condition of the interior in 1984 was noted as being relatively good.

[edit] Links

Heritage Impact Assessment Report

[edit] Sources

[edit] Photos

Figure 1: Front façade
 
Figure 2: Front façade viewed from a different angle
 
Figure 3: Convex-concave gables
 
Figure 4: Cornices
 
Figure 5: Close up view of the front façade
 
Figure 6: Gables and details
 
Figure 7: Wrought iron gate that is always locked
 
Figure 8: National monument bronze plaque
 
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