Motivation to oppose 22 Plein St – See also ‘ISSUES’ – Appeal Upheld

Len Raymond :

I have read  the motivation /historical report/ heritage assessment for  the development of 22 plein street Paarl ‘;

I comment as follows

The initial application and appeal decision;

  1. A) This application treats this as if it does not exist and portrays no understanding of what was argued and the appeals committees comments and questions that led to the decision.
  2. B) The report is a rehash of decisions and comments that were dismissed by the appeals authority to the extent that this application is little more than an appeal against the appeal and as such this application should be dismissed out of hand .
  3. C) I attach a heads of argument submitted to the panel which assist in the understanding of why the appeal was successful.

 

The main issues that were raised at the appeal hearing that led to the decision 

 

  1. A) The various qualifications included in the Drakenstein Heritage survey in respect of the revised objectives, the method and the results and consequences are such that the individual grading’s must be  motivated with every application after  the necessary research to  make up for the shortfalls in the survey

B)It is a requirement of the act that the buildings must be researched and recorded. When  as this case there is    doubt as to the  importance of the building and its role in the development  of our architectural  heritage  this becomes of the utmost importance  and no decisions based upon the grading can be accepted until further research/ investigation is undertaken to motivate the  application.

  1. C) In the case of 22 Plein street the DHF motivated the grading Based upon the guidelines to grading as being at least a 3A which should be considered as a 2.

 

  1. C) The effect of the grading MOTIVATED WITH THE APPLICATION was such that the proposals presented could not be accepted as the guidelines do not provide for the extent of intervention into the original structure.
  2. D) In the original application important facts are not accurately presented  and /or omitted. This is repeated in the current application. The appeals panel was pretty harsh on the architect when questioning him about these omission’s . In the current application these misrepresentations  have  been repeated in another manner l with the intention  of allowing the “gutting” of the inside  and demolition of  the footprint of the original building. This will destroy the authentic fabric which is the main factor contributing  to the motivation that this should be proclaimed as a grade 2 building

 

What is the building and why the high significance attached to it by the appellants

 

  1. A) The site; The building stands 1) on the old waggon road used from before 1700and possibly the oldest surviving  waggon path in the country still used virtually unaltered.

2) it faces onto VD POELS PLEIN which was the traditional  access up to the mountain  called VD POELS DEURDRIFT

3)By the time this site was developed( approx. . late 1920 early 1930) not 1950 as described in the document        the usage and landscape had changed and developed substantially  magnifying both the importance   and the  historical significance of this Plein .  The Plein had  become the focus  of and was addressed/ surrounded by important buildings and enjoyed high visual access from the “new main road”  that now cut across the plein after the church allowed the through traffic. The waggon path was still used in wet weather.

4) the buildings that surrounded and faced onto the plein in the 1920’s To the west an  ornate  converted barn  in high Victorian style with a turret and broekie lace   decoration ( that still stands almost unaltered but hidden behind a hedge)

 To the east  a government building  erected in 1915  in the  so styled Eclectic  Z A Wilhelmiens  * influenced by the Dutch architectural style then prominent in the Transvaal and used extensively by the department of Public works. The corner stone is inscribed in Dutch and laid by the administrator of the cape in 1915

* AUTHORS; KAREL BAKKER, NICHOLAS CLARK, ROGER FISHER

To the south by a late and unusual thatched roof vernacular style house since demolished but recorded in the  Elliiot collection

To the north east by 2 buildings either side of the developing main road  (1 dated 1894 the other appears on pictures as a Victorian villa) both of which had as their main focus  angled or cut corner main entrances facing onto the Plein /main road corner .  the 1 remains almost unaltered the other remains with most of its Victorian fabric removed .

The north west corner of this Plein which was chosen as the site for this building   . The site was highly viable,  prominent and surrounded by a number of special buildings. The site was  divided leaving a  access pathway to the west and the building is pushed as far west and south as possible to maximise it’s visibility from the main road and the Plein  and  was the  visual centre to the north

It was these factors that motivated our contention   to the appeals  that this building  site was chosen  for its special relationship ,  significance and visibility from the planning phase  of this site  that when combined with the significant internal fabric must lead to a grade 2  assessment. The standard  most often used when assessing importance has always been   “ was it special when built/ constructed/ designed.” This  building fulfils that criteria.

 

  1. B) The Designers

No information   has been provided nor is it the appellants duty to provide this . What we do know is that  this style/ design  has at least 4 very similar  versions  one of which (the original H.O. of the KWV) is attributed to WYNARD LOUW the  renown Paarl architect who was responsible for many famous buildings in the Cape.  The other 3 (including 22 Plein street)  have many features so similar that they must either be by the same architect or are copied from his work.  Common features include                                     1) high visibility obviously built to show

2) the columns on the stoep and the decoration

3) the use of a new  and material steel windows still with old rolled glass

4) the quality of the teak joinery

5) the twin fireplace design

 

Included in the building  are a number of features that were almost revolutionary at the time and  as they still remain  they represents  the development in usage design and material that was rapidly developing in the early 20th cen.

1) steel windows to the alley

2)  composite fireplace surrounds   imitating marble

3) the use of cut glass (with added decorations) in the windows

4) architecturally designed interior fitting made to match the style of the house (cupboards, library shelving, doors etc). all of which remain.

5) the design incorporating in the wing for which this application is made a designated lounge/ sitting room , a separate dinning room and separate kitchen.  All of which were serviced by a passage  that was  hidden from the visitor at the front door. The opposite wing again serviced by a passage( which again occupied the central area) serviced the library / sitting room and the bedrooms with the  facilities on the other side of the passage in the back of the central area.

6) clay roof tiles in Paarl

7) ceiling of  what is today  a common ceiling material   composite  rhino board  but was unknown previously.

 

THIS BUILDING   APPEARS TO INCLUDE MANY FEATURES THAT WE TODAY CONSIDER INFERIOR HOWEVER  THIS HOUSE   IS A FORERUNNER USING MATERIALS AND FEATURES THAT HAVE BEEN COPIED AND SIMPLYFIED OVER THE YEARS  TO THE EXTENT THAT WE FAIL TO APPRECIATE THE IMPORTANCE  ROLE THAT THIS BUILDING PLAYED IN THE DEVELOPMENT  OF  MATERIALS THAT WERE TO BE PRODUCED FOR THE NEW AGE OF SPECTULATIVE HOUSE BUILDING.

An example  is this buildings role in the  attempt  structural   progress  is the designers attempt to form a corner  window which was shortly to be adopted when the necessary materials became local available

Within a few years the advantages of concrete at the  corner windows became possible. These architects/builders did not have the material/ knowledge yet to  support a corner window and needed structural assistance by means of a brick column . This is  another   important aspect of this building . It is interesting  to note that this corner feature was incorporated in a slightly later international  style house very nearby y highlighting the  social importance of this area as an area of design experimentation ..

 

HOW THE PROPOSAL IMPACTS AND DETRACTS FROM THE SIGNIICANCE OF THE BUILDING

 

 1) The basic intention of the application is to gut the interior of the house and break through the exterior wall at the north west  to form a complete newly designed  interior and the  introduction of the French door into the  corner of the wing(how this would affect the stability is not disclosed).. The  difference between this building and a 3c is the interior . This was accepted  in the appeal but his type of intervention is contrary to the guidelines for a building of this quality

2) The current application  attempt to display the exterior wall as an interior wall but in a different manner to the original application  . This was  an important issue in the appeal  The current application misrepresents this fact.

3) the introduction of elements foreign to the design ( French doors and wooden Windows) which are  foreign to and  contradict the style element of the building and thus the significance.

4) In gutting the building  the ceilings  are designed to run through  to form a single element.

In essence

  1. a) the squaring off of the existing arched  intervention between the lounge and dinning is supported as long as at least  500mm  of wall  is retained below the ceiling and the definition of the room and it’s ceiling is thus retained .
  2. b) ditto the dinning room/ internal wall to the existing kitchen
  3. c) ditto the passage which cannot be incorporated into the room as it defines the architectural design . The passage must be defined.
  4. d) the internal joinery must be retained in position ( doors and cupboards)
  5. c) the demolition of the external north wall to incorporate it into an enlarged kitchen  formed a  crucial issue between the appeal committee and the architect as it was  not clearly defined  IT IS  REPRESENTED  AS AN INTERNASL WALL IN THIS APPLICATION . An opening of approximately 2.3 high and  2 meters wide  could be considered  SUBJECT TO HWC APPROVAL AFTER  REWCONSIDERATION OF THE GRADING .This is however is strictly against the guidelines but could be allowed to gain access to a completely “new kitchen “   built to  accommodate the kitchen cupboards  already constructed which could then  incorporate  new joinery as required.
  6. d) the steel windows can be replaced but like for like aluminium could be used provided it exactly replicates the originals . Every effort must be made to retain the old rolled glass.
  7. e) the insertion of the French doors into the old fabric is opposed but they can be installed into the section of the later lean to now represented on the plan as original structure.

f ) to achieve the single room image / open plan the plans incorporated steel support beams to hold up the roof structure and  remove the definitions between the rooms . This is unacceptable and the appeals agreed with this sentiment.

 

I object to the submission of an  almost identical application  after the appeal decision. A  substantially revised  proposal is required  before HWC  should consider it.

 

 

 

 

Comments are closed