Cape folk architecture at Irma Stern

18 October 2004

An exhibition celebrating 40 years of vernacular architecture studies at the Cape, highlighting the serious threats to regional heritage and the daily losses of unique settlements and buildings, is currently on display at the Irma Stern Museum. The exhibition closes on October 30.

The display explains what vernacular means, demonstrates why vernacular is unique, investigates cross-cultural links and historical influences, questions assumptions regarding building methods, celebrates successes, mourns losses, highlights how and why vernacular is vulnerable, and hopes to inspire future champions.

The show is a collation masterminded by a number of specialists, including restoration architects, historians and archaeologists, and features a collaboration with the Frank Joubert Art Centre. The exhibition has close ties to UCT as the Vernacular Architecture Society of South Africa was born out of a UCT Summer School 40 years ago.

Under the auspices of UCT's Summer School course, a series of lectures titled Cape Dutch Architecture was delivered by luminaries on history, architectural history and origins of architectural features, such as James Walton and Barrie Biermann. They inspired a small group of enthusiasts to start a society which was not intended as a preservation or restoration society. Its express purpose was to reveal, record and understand the special architecture of South Africa.

For this reason the society selected the Irma Stern Museum as the venue to celebrate its 40th anniversary, to honour its origin and association with UCT while looking back over 40 years of sustained activities.

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