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;
- 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.
- 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 .
- 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
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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
- 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.
- 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.
- 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 .
- b) ditto the dinning room/ internal wall to the existing kitchen
- c) ditto the passage which cannot be incorporated into the room as it defines the architectural design . The passage must be defined.
- d) the internal joinery must be retained in position ( doors and cupboards)
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.