The life and work of architect Wynand H Louw (1883-1967) with a focus on the design of ecclesiastical buildings

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Geldenhuys, Albert Barend
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University of the Free State
Wynand H Louw (1883-1967) is acclaimed to be the first Afrikaans-speaking South African to be formally trained as an architect. After his training at the Architectural Association in London Louw returned to South Africa in the post-South African War and pre-Unification era. Architectural work was scarce, but he received his first commission late in 1907. Early in 1909 the DRC Port Elizabeth gave him his first commission for a new church building. More ecclesiastical projects would soon follow, launching him in his career as architect. Louw grew up as a member of the Dutch Reformed Church 𝘚𝘵𝘳𝘰𝘰𝘪𝘥𝘢𝘬𝘬𝘦𝘳𝘬 Paarl. It had a typical early 19th -century Greek cross plan and Cape Dutch design. He realised that the Latin (and even Greek) cross was not ideal as a layout for reformed churches which focused on the sermon, requiring a focus on the pulpit in the centre of the liturgical space. A new approach to reformed church design was required. As a member of a Reformed church, and a well-trained architect, Louw was in an ideal position to start experimenting. Based on the author’s research a total of approximately 160 ecclesiastical building projects can be ascribed to Louw and his architectural practices Louw & Moerdyk and Louw & Louw. Over a period of fifty years, they designed at least 110 churches, many church halls, and did a number of church renovations. These projects gave Louw ample opportunity to experiment with new ideas and to develop and hone his skills as a church architect. This dissertation aims to document Louw’s complete oeuvre of ecclesiastical projects. With reference to the broad global, as well as the South African context of church architecture’s evolution over the ages, it strives to indicate if, why, how and to what extent Wynand H Louw’s design ideas for reformed church buildings were the beginning of a new era for church architecture in southern Africa.
Dissertation (M.Arch.(Architecture))--University of the Free State, 2023
Wynand H Louw, church architecture, architectural association, Johan CE Seeliger, KWV head office building, Louw & Louw, Louw & Moerdyk, Mutual heights, Napier DRC church, Reitz DRC church, RIBA in South Africa, 𝘋𝘪𝘦 𝘚𝘵𝘳𝘢𝘯𝘥 DRC church, Waalburg building