1st Edition

An Architecture of Care in South Africa From Arts and Crafts to Other Progeny

By Nicholas Coetzer Copyright 2023
    230 Pages 49 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    Architects care. It is foundational and germane to the discipline and practice of architecture. This book charts the way the Arts and Crafts Movement established the moral ethos of ‘an architecture of care’ that not only remains embedded in current discourse and practice but also that is being given a more vocal presence in our climate-crisis and social justice world.

    By way of ‘genealogical strands’ the book charts the origin of ‘architecture of care’ ideas in the Arts and Crafts Movement and their impact on the ‘other progeny’ architectural projects in South Africa over the past hundred years. These range from the translation of inglenooks into an armature architecture of ‘Dignified Places’ in Cape Town’s townships to the ethos of ‘upliftment’ and care that translates from Octavia Hill through to ‘correcting’ building regulations and eventually finding a less moralising and more transformative impact in the ‘Hostels to Homes’ project.

    The birth of design through context and climate in the Arts and Crafts Movement is demonstrated by the shift in South African houses from boxy cottages to solar- and nature-oriented ribbon plans as demonstrated through the work of Helmut Stauch and Norman Eaton. The dislocation of Arts and Crafts ideas to the Cape also demonstrated a limit to the valorising of vernacular architecture and its ‘against-globalization’ building materials whereby English architects promoted Cape Dutch settler architecture and denigrated African vernacular architecture. As a final ‘genealogical strand,’ the book demonstrates the coherence of moral instrumentality with the animism and affects potential of handmade buildings.

    Written for academics, students and researchers interested in architectural history, it is an eye-opening investigation into the role of architecture in society.



    Chapter 1. Buildings are for people: And other things

    Chapter 2. Founders and founding tropes of an architecture of care

    Chapter 3. Are you sitting comfortably? Inglenooks, armatures and over-anxious ‘Dignified Places’

    Chapter 4. Uplifting work: The moral art of Octavia Hill, unsettling settlers, and ‘Hostels to Homes’

    Chapter 5. Climate change: Arts and Crafts and context-based architecture in Southern Africa

    Chapter 6. Mud and Soil: The political nature of building materials

    Chapter 7. Handmade: From Cape Dutch animism and animated tools to a new ‘joy in labour’

    Chapter 8. Concluding Remarks



    Nicholas Coetzer is an Associate Professor and NRF-rated researcher at the University of Cape Town School of Architecture where he has worked since 2001. He is also the Director of the independent non-profit School of Explorative Architecture and a registered architect in South Africa. Nic completed his PhD at the Bartlett School of Architecture in 2004 which was published with Ashgate in 2013 as Building Apartheid: On Architecture and Order in Imperial Cape Town which solidified his interest in architecture at the turn of 19th century. Apart from many refereed journal publications and book chapters on contemporary and historical South African architecture and architectural pedagogy, Nic also contributed to a regular ‘back page’ column in Architecture South Africa.

    Coetzer persistently challenges us to reconsider what “care” might be for architects and architecture. Skillfully interweaving detailed building studies with issues of activism, aesthetics, apartheid, climate, ecology, morality, materials and urban design, he journeys adeptly from Darwin, Morris, Hill and Ruskin right through to Latour, Van Eyck and Spuybroek . In doing so he re-writes our understanding of the Art & Crafts movement, translating it to new geographies and theoretical contexts. Informative and thought-provoking.

    - Professor Ian Borden, The Bartlett, University College London.