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Mutual Building (also known as Old Mutual Building or Mutual Gebou; now Mutual Heights)
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Mutual Building (also known as Old Mutual Building or Mutual Gebou; now Mutual Heights), result 1 of 1

Item Details
Public
Available to everyone
Culture
South African
Title
Mutual Building (also known as Old Mutual Building or Mutual Gebou; now Mutual Heights)
Central atrium as seen from 10th floor
Interior
Work Type
apartment houses
Date
1940
Image: August 26, 2018
Location
Mutual Building (also known as Old Mutual Building or Mutual Gebou; now Mutual Heights)
Cape Town, Western Cape, Province of the, South Africa
Latitude: 33.924 S
Longitude: 18.422 E
Material
granite over reinforced concrete (with internal brick and plaster fill)
Period
Art Deco
Measurements
84 m tall
Description
The central atrium, seen here, was originally entirely open. A glass roof has been added, although there are still clerestory louvers that allow in fresh air. The atrium is asymmetrical, with one side featuring rounded balconies and banks of windows set in semi-circles (also part of the office to residence conversion; the rooms behind the circular window banks appear to be living rooms now). The atrium features period-appropriate lighting.
Commentary: Originally constructed as an office building, the Mutual Building was renovated in 2005 into residences, a transformation then repeated in several other historic downtown offices in Cape Town. Many of the original building materials and details (such as the door handles) have survived the renovation. There is still some retail use on the ground floor of the building. The building is notable for its distinct setback massing, typical of Art Deco skyscrapers, and for its pyramidal windows. The building is only ten stories tall, but each floor is 16 ft (5 m)Perhaps even more striking are the exterior friezes and sculptural reliefs. Granite decorations on the upper floors depict elephants (level 6), baboons (level 8), and a generic “tribal head” (on the tower). The carved granite figures on the side of the street facing Parliament Street represent nine ethnic African groups.The long frieze that rings the building (marking the transition from the ground floor to the floors above), depicts events from South Africa’s colonial past, such as the Great Trek, the journey undertaken by groups of Dutch Boer settlers (1830s-1850s) from the Cape area to the area around what is today Johannesburg and Pretoria. Finished only six years before the formal institution of apartheid in South Africa, the artwork of the building reinforces the colonial, racialized narratives that the architects of apartheid would use to justify the strict policies of segregation. The imagery of the frieze recalls that used on the Voortrekker Monument (see SAHARA photo series also by this author), which by this time was already under construction. For more information, see the Wikipedia page on this building, which is very well researched and includes rigorous references and many detail photographs from other rooms and areas of the building that this creator was not able to access. See also the article by Federico Freschi entitled “Big Business Beautility” (full citation below).
Source
Contributor: Sarah Rovang
Information: “Mutual Building” at https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mutual_Building; Freschi, Federico. “Big Business Beautility: The Old Mutual Building, Cape Town, South Africa.” Journal of Decorative and Propaganda Arts 20, 1994.
Photographer: Sarah Rovang
Rights
Sarah Rovang 2018
License
Use of this image is in accordance with the applicable Terms & Conditions
File Properties
File Name
0826SKR201808.jpg
SSID
24156888

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