TOPIC: Dirk van Velden Visser, Architect & Champion of Cape Vernacular
SPEAKER: Kathy Dumbrell
DATE: Tuesday, 19th February 2013
VENUE: The Athenaeum
Boundary Terraces, Newlands – at the intersection of Mariendahl & Campground Roads.
In a career spanning nearly fifty years, Dirk Visser left his mark in various ways on a wide range of Cape vernacular buildings.
Fittingly, it started with one of his student measured drawings being published in the reference work by Pearse.
From there, he increasingly became involved in the vernacular built heritage, and led numerous restorations over his career.
But his “head full of information” (as he described his huge body of knowledge) was not a jealously guarded resource – he shared his knowledge widely and thus many architects in Cape Town have stories to tell of collaborations with Dirk.
This talk, drawn from interviews with Dirk, gives an overview of his career as he charted it.
Dirk Visser graduated from UCT School of Architecture in the 1950s, working in London and Zambia before settling back in Cape Town and starting his practice with classmates from his Archi School days. Thus the firm of Munnik Visser Black and Fish was born.
He continued to practice until the mid-1990s, when he retired from practice but continued to advise others from his home, Vredenburg (Mowbray). He died in 2003.
Kathy Dumbrell is an independent heritage practitioner whose decision to enter this field was strongly influenced by Dirk’s passion for vernacular architecture and the history of Cape Town.
After a BAS from UCT, she did an interdisciplinary Honours degree in research and Cape history.
She is now in private practice.