TOPIC: Barrie Biermann – Cape vernacular architecture as a colonial tradition
SPEAKER: André van Graan
DATE: Tuesday, 21 May 2013
TIME: 20h00
VENUE: The Athenaeum
Boundary Terraces, Newlands – at the intersection of Campground & Mariendahl Roads.

At the Summer School held at UCT in 1964 there were two speakers who lectured on aspects of Cape architecture and they elicited an excitement among the audience that led to the establishment of the Vernacular Architecture Society of South Africa a few months later. One was James Walton & the other Dr. Barrie Biermann.

Prof.Biermann (1924 -1991) was a lecturer in architecture at the University of Natal in Durban, having completed his architectural studies at UCT in 1949 and his doctorate there in 1954. In 1946 he had travelled to Brazil and the Dutch colonies of South America, studying the colonial architecture of the region.

His understanding of the architecture of South Africa was encapsulated in his remarkable Boukuns in Suid-Afrika.
A succinctly written book, beautifully illustrated with his own drawings, it showed the main themes of the history of building in South Africa. The result of his study was a new and enriched understanding of this architecture. He was extremely erudite, a great intellect and a born teacher who, through his magical chalk drawings on the blackboard, transformed architectural history lectures.

Professor André van Graan is the past Chair of VASSA and Acting Head of Department at the Cape Peninsula University of Technology. He was fortunate enough to have been taught by Barrie Biermann when he went to study architecture in Durban. He will explore Biermann’s hypothesis of the origins of Cape Dutch architecture as a manifestation of Dutch colonialism.

SAHRIS WORKSHOP: Engaging with the National Heritage Estate through SAHRIS

17h30 to 19h30 on Wednesday 15 May at the SAHRA offices, corner Roeland & Harrington Streets

Following his presentation at our AGM in March Nic Wiltshire, Project Manager for the SAHRIS project at SAHRA, is offering a free training workshop for those who want to learn how to use the system.

Participants will learn how to identify and record new heritage sites on SAHRIS.

The grading process will also be covered as various tiers of significance defined in the National Heritage Resources Act affect the way the sites are managed.

In addition to the grading and recording features of SAHRIS, the online public participation process will be demonstrated, especially with regards to the registration of conservation bodies and their responsibilities on commenting on developments and permit applications.


VASSA deeply mourns Willem’s passing and remembers with gratitude his ”vernac” legacy and impact on buildings such as Boschendal, Ravenswood & Victoria West.
His memorial will be held on Friday 24 May, 3.30 pm at
St Cyprian’s School Chapel, Gorge Road, Oranjezicht, followed by refreshments in the school Voorkamer.

Please would you advise his daughter Vanessa Rousseau if you will be attending:
Tel 021 794 2218, Fax 086 670 9731.
Mobile: 083 264 0943, email:

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