Monday, 3 December 2007

Saving the mid-century


The Werdmuller Centre in Claremont, Cape Town, was built in the 70s, and designed by Roelof Uytenbogaardt, an award-winning architect. I was shocked (though not surprised) to find out via the Elle Decoration blog that it's under threat of demolition.

Although it's a very beautiful building, I've always known it as a shabby, under-utilised and slightly scary place - it's on the 'wrong' side of Claremont's very scary Main Road, a road that requires nerves of steel if you're going to cross it on foot. Apparently the best solution to the problem of this building, and Main Road itself, is a new road, and massive redevelopment of the area. Read more about the developers' plans (oops, I almost said evil schemes...) here.

From the Elle Deco blog:

On Wednesday 5 December , there will be a public presentation of the Heritage Impact Assesment regarding the demolition of the Werdmuller Centre.
To show your support against its demolition, attend the meeting at 5pm. It will be held at 71 Hout Street, Cape Town, on the First floor of the Cape Institute.
If you’re unable to attend, you can add your signature to a petition. Send an email to oh.architecture@gmail.com to find out more.


You can see more photos of the Werdmuller Centre on my Flickr page; I took a whole bunch of snapshots yesterday. It was hard to stop, but I also needed to be quick. You can see from the photos what a desolate place it is on a Sunday morning, but hopefully you can also see what an amazing building it could be. Knocking it down to build 'exclusive' 'luxury' 'loft-style' cubbyholes might not be the best thing to do.

6 comments:

Cristina said...

It is not nice when a building is going down! especially when people has so many memories from it. I came from a country and from a city very, very old. Lisbon has so many old buildins that you can't even imagine! people should try to convert them to something usefull. Sorry about that :(

kat said...

I must admit I never realised the beauty of that building. I guess I've just never explored it. Pretty sad that I'm that unobservant - and unfortunately I think there are too many others like me.

Thanks for your advice on my side table project, I'll be posting the results when I've decided how to tackle it!

Strcprstskrzkrk said...

I seem to remember that there used to be (still is?) a second-hand bookshop on the lower level of that centre. It all looks much more run down now though...

Jesse said...

Cafda? It's still there - best second-hand bookshop I've ever been to.

von_brandis said...

I love Cafda's! There one in Seapoint too, but this Cafda's is by far the best. The building itself is absolutely fascinating from an architectural point of view - has a labyrinth feel to it at parts. A pity it has become so derelict and forgotten. And i can see with the change that Claremont has experienced in recent years, that this has come under threat. It would be the greatest pity. Thanks for sharing your images!

mallix said...

I love this building - it's a rare architectural gem and should be preserved/restored as a shining example to all the money-hungry architects/planners/developers out there that are DESTROYING our city. Catch a wake-up! Architecture is REAL.