Union Buildings Visitor Centre: Pretoria South Africa 1997


Client: Department of Public Works

Team: Henri Comrie and Chris Wilkinson as directors of Comrie Wilkinson Architects and Urban Designers.

This un-built project was designed for a site within a small forest of trees immediately below and to the left of the Union Buildings, which house the office of the President of South Africa and the state’s executive functions. Here the centre would hide from the overpowering presence of the Union Buildings and would offer a point of arrival, refreshment and orientation to the now mostly inaccessible state buildings.

The language of the building  is necessarily modest with a heavy brick base and a continuous, floating, horizontal roof. Though not built, its modest form and unpretentious detailing has strongly influenced subsequent projects. The Chapel of Light (click here to view) and several houses designed by both Henri Comrie and Chris Wilkinson display similar qualities.