A brief tour of the Jacaranda City quickly reveals it as a place of beauty and of contrasts. Not only does the dense carpet of purple blossoms provide the perfect natural border to its busy streets, but its pavements and green spaces are home to some of the most iconic buildings in South Africa – the legacy of successive generations of architects in Pretoria.
Founded by Marthinus Pretorius in 1855, who established it as the capital of the Transvaal Republic, the city is an eclectic mix of early German, British, and Dutch colonial architecture that later gave way to the newer genres of art deco, modernism, post-modernism, and neo-modernism. Today, as the administrative capital of the Republic of South Africa, no landmark in the city is more widely recognised than the panoramic Union Building with its blend of Renaissance, Neoclassical, Edwardian, and Cape Dutch elements. The work of Herbert Baker remains a lesson for architects in Pretoria to this day. His work includes the Palace of Justice and the Pretoria Railway station.
A major centre of learning, the city boasts three universities, and when driving along the R21 from Johannesburg, the first sign that one is approaching the city comes with the sighting of the UNISA building and the Lukasrand communications tower beyond. The building is characterised by the striking projection that houses the seven floors of its headquarters, supported only by a huge steel girder and a single concrete column. Approach via the N1, and you will pass the equally striking retro-modernist offices of the AFGRI head office, built in 1980.
Today, architects in Pretoria are continuing the tradition of their predecessors, leveraging new technologies, creating new and exciting challenges, and devising innovative ways in which to overcome them. Among the city’s leaders in the field is JK Designs. A young and dynamic company with a comprehensive range of expertise, JK Designs specialises in both residential and commercial projects, adhering to its core values of quality and innovation while always prioritising client satisfaction.
This firm of talented designers and architects has been leaving its mark in and around Pretoria by adding some pretty iconic buildings of its own. Some classic examples that might be worth checking out are the space-age structure that now houses the head office of USN in Irene and the Brooklyn Boutique Hotel. That same talent for innovation and its practical applications are also to be seen in a growing number of luxury residences springing up in the city’s suburbs.
Unlike most architects in Pretoria, JK Designs is able to offer a near-turnkey service, leaving the client free of the day-to-day worries over task and budget management.