Obituary : Hannes Meiring, Architect, Historian and Artist (1934-2010)

"I am attracted to small things: pondokkies, cottages on the wayside, the brave attempts of people to adorn their houses on the platteland and in the remote countryside. I like people and am always fascinated by the individual's response to the environment." *

It is with deep regret and sadness that we record the unexpected death of South African architect Hannes Meiring who passed away on Monday, 3 May 2010 in Cape Town. 

Hannes Meiring was born in Potchefstroom in 1934 and qualified from the Cape Town School of Architecture in 1958. In 1962 he won a scholarship from the then West Germany government to study at the Akademie der Bildenden Künste in Munich. After his return in 1964 he established a practice in Pretoria and became active in the field of architectural heritage preservation and conservation.

South Africa will always be deeply indebted to Meiring for his many contributions to the preservation of its architectural heritage, most notably for his valiant participation and leadership in the successful campaign to save Pretoria's historic Church Square buildings from demolition. 

Meiring was subsequently involved in the restoration of the Old Council Chambers and the historical Erasmus Castle in Pretoria East. In 1976 Meiring's practice was responsible for the design and construction of the Music Conservatory of the University of Pretoria.

In 1984 he formed the practice Van der Lecq & Meiring with fellow architect Jac van der Lecq. The practice is best known for its work on the expansion of the Cape Town Parliament in 1984 and the restoration of the Johannesburg City Hall for the Gauteng Provincial Legislature in 1994. Other works of note include the Saldanha Steel Plant and the Rupert Museum in Stellenbosch.

Whilst the South African Architectural Profession deeply mourns the loss of one of its most devoted and talented sons, it is comforted by the knowledge that Meiring's kind, gentle and gregarious personality is perpetuated in his beautifully executed sketches and drawings which grace nine publications on the conservation of South Africa's architectural cultural heritage.

Architect Africa Collective, May 2010

* (1) Hannes Meiring, Leading Architecture & Design May/June 2005

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