In the beginning

Sarah Calburn’s article on Mail & Guardian Online finally prompted me to start what I’ve been considering for a while.


9 Responses to In the beginning

  1. Gaelen says:

    Great. I wish this site success. South African architects really do need to start being more critical of the commercial, neo-classical rubbish blighting our landscape. The stylistic appropriation of other histories is only the tip of the iceberg in terms of the effects bad architecture and urban-planning are having on daily lives.
    Some buildings I’d like to see added:
    – Grand West Casino, CT
    – Century City, CT
    – Montecasino, JHB

    Oh, and even though its old, how about adding the Golden Acre Centre (CT) for the way it destroyed urban space around the Adderley/Strand intersection.

    And how about the militaristic bunker-like buildings of the former Cape Tech. Talk about oppressive apartheid architecture… plonked on D6! (No offence to any students there).

  2. Gaelen says:

    Oh, I forgot to add this link:

    A hilarious and also sad lecture in which James Howard Kunstler talks about the lack of place-making in many US cities. He says America is a nation of places not worth caring about.

  3. silentbee says:


    Thanks for the comments. And for the great recommendations. I’ll definately be adding some of those in the coming weeks. If you could pass the link to this blog around amongst your peers, it’d be a tremendous help in getting things off the ground.

  4. Archie says:

    Well, there are a few buildings here in Knysna that need to be exposed on your blog. Oversize monstrosities that are, to quote from a letter to the Cape Times about Montclare Place in Cape Town, “an architecture that exists only to squeeze profit from every inch of available space.” I hope to send pics. How do I do that?

  5. silentbee says:


    You can upload them to Flickr and tag them as ‘yourarchitectureisbad’ or add them to our Flickr group. Have a look at the Submit page on blog. I’m hoping that system will work for everyone 🙂

  6. disillusioned / hopeful-when-drunk archi says:

    Thank you thank you thank you, for saying what so many of us archi’s want to scream out loud!

    Why are there so many crappy buildings? Especially in Durban! Durban is supposed to be this cultural kasbah rich in creativity and innovation, but I think majority of the architects and developers missed that memo! et me not begin…

    Carry on please, and if you need any help finding palaces of mediocrity I`d be happy to help.

  7. nemo says:

    I think your website which in all intensive purposes attempts to do something which may have aspirations at being a benefit to the Architectural profession will end up being the butt end of many jokes due to the following :
    lack of actual client briefs to the building you list
    lack of experience in the industry driven by budgetary concerns
    lack of actual projects built with the majority of property developer driven architecture which actually is bread and butter of many small practices who without property developers will not be able to practice

    It would be rather interesting to see if SILENTBEE would post their work for open PEER REVEIW.

    This would probably foster more intellectual debates rather than a simple judging a book by its cover without actually reading the reveiws on the sleeve.

    Lets be POSITIVE and hope that the institution which produces local architects takes note as clearly the product of current crop of graduate architects which is a yardstick to go by, still leaves alot for any graduate to come to terms with the real world within which we Architects find themselves having to shape the very places and spaces we all are surrounded by.

  8. silentbee says:


    Thanks for the comment. I presume you have made your assumptions based on the About the Author text above. I have amended it slightly.

    While I am still young in terms of this profession, I have had a fair share of exposure to the realities of corporate and developer-driven architecture. This is why I have tried to name the developer and/or client in each building I have listed — they are as much to blame for bad design as the architects. More so, some might argue. In most cases this information was hard enough to come by, let alone full details on briefings. But I hear your comments, and I will try to dig deeper in the future.

    In terms of “budgetary concerns”. I must disagree entirely. There are plenty of amazing examples from all over Africa of creative architectural solutions to the ever-present problem of a thin budget. Budgets are always too small. Architects need to realise this and get creative.

    As for my work. Like I said, I’m still a fairly young architect. Currently I work for a commercial practice with commercial clients. It’s not unlikely that, at some point, I’ll make a comment about one of our clients, future clients or one of our own buildings! And I quite like having a job at the moment. But I hear you. As soon as I’m able to, I will make sure that my work is out there for peer review.

  9. Lateralus says:

    “lack of actual client briefs to the building you list
    lack of experience in the industry driven by budgetary concerns
    lack of actual projects built with the majority of property developer driven architecture which actually is bread and butter of many small practices who without property developers will not be able to practice”

    Agree, you can’t pass judgment in a mere paragraph of text.. Projects should be critically analysed(although they may not be worthy of it). The narrow minded or the misinformed need be enlightened of the failures of these projects. In most cases you only base your judgment upon the movement or style, when it is the function that should be in question as well. Silly-Bee this is a good start, but you need to base all your assumptions upon fact for it to be more than tongue in cheek criticism.
    On cost- Rodney Harber suggested this book to me “The Barefoot Architect” by Johan van Lengen
    . There are so many alternative building methods which we have never truly explored here. Its far too idealistic to try employ ideas like this in large scale projects however understanding that we are not restricted to mass produced standardised building materials is important.

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