The Roodt legacy lives on

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Well-known Bloemfontein architect, Anton Roodt, recently took a trip down memory lane to commemorate the 70 years of Roodt Architects. As he states, it has been seventy years and three generations later, as his son Leon-Pierre is also a practicing architect.

Anton Roodt. PHOTO: Supplied

His father, Leon Roodt, started the firm back in 1952. With regards to carrying out the Roodt legacy he says his son is currently investigating opportunities to temporarily work overseas but will on his return relocate to the Western Cape where they hope to establish a satellite office of Roodt Architects soon.

Bloemfontein Courant spoke to Roodt to find out what the highlights have been over the years and what projects they are most proud of. “We have been fortunate to have had the opportunity to be involved with several prestigious projects in the historical President Brand Street conservation area,” says Roodt.

 

These include the restoration of the Old Presidency (1983 and 2002) that was initially completed by my father, the repair and rehabilitation of the Old Government Offices (NALN) (2002), the modernisation and repair of the Fourth Raadzaal (2007), additions to the High Court (1995) and the reconstruction of the City Hall after it was almost destroyed by fire. The new regional office building for the Department of Public Works was constructed on the last vacant site in this historical street. “To be part of the making and preservation of a city’s architectural history is a privilege,” he adds. The projects that stand out the most for him are the ones from the past 30 years.

2003 – Morné Pienaar’s house. PHOTO: Supplied

A house we designed for a bachelor in a converted historical barn situated on the farm Tempe (2003); an unbuilt branch office for the South African Reserve Bank (2008) with Mr Tito Mboweni as the client, which was an enriching experience; the student centre known as the Thakaneng Bridge at the University of the Free State (2003), constructed over a busy dual carriage way; the rehabilitation of the founding venue of the ANC at Waaihoek (2014) and the subsequent urban design and planning of the precinct; and the recent reconstruction of the City Hall of Mangaung (2021).

“Our own house (2014) is also close to my heart as I invested much of myself in the design of this project,” he says. On the topic of retirement, Roodt says: “Practicing architects seldom retire. It is said to be an old man’s profession. As an example: Frank Lloyd Wright, the famous American architect, appeared on the cover of TIME Magazine when he was 71. I might still be in with a chance! I am fortunate enough, though, to still be studying and will probably always remain a student.”

2014 – Anton Roodt’s house. PHOTO: Supplied

Roodt Architects are currently, among other things, working on the rehabilitation of a historical manor house on the outskirts of the city and hope to soon start with the repair and renovation of the Dutch Reformed Church in Burgersdorp that was badly damaged by fire in 2020.

“Our firm has embraced the new post-Covid working environment and most of our professional staff are practicing virtually. We maintain a core office with technical staff and students that is overseen by my partner, Madelane Gerber. I firmly believe that to stay relevant in what you do, you must understand and accept change,” he concludes

Justine Fortuin
justine@mahareng.co.za