Union Buildings, Pretoria – South Africa

by Kojo Pocu
Union Buildings

The grand Union buildings sit on Meintjies Kop and overlook the city of Pretoria.

The South African government’s formal seat is located in the Union Buildings, which also serve as the president’s offices. On Meintjies Kop, the opulent Union structures stare over Pretoria. The English monumental style was used in the construction of the Union Buildings, which were made of light sandstone and designed by Sir Herbert Baker. The Buildings have a semi-circular shape and are over 275 metres long, with two wings on either side. This helps to symbolise the coming together of a once-divided people. English and Afrikaans are represented by the east and west wings, respectively.

Many people view the Union Buildings as the architect’s crowning effort and a masterpiece of South African architecture. In November 1910, the foundation stone was set. The building, which took more than 1,265 men three years to construct, was finished in 1913.

Particularly noteworthy are the 9 000-seat amphitheatre and the tiered gardens encircling the buildings that were entirely planted with indigenous vegetation.

There are many statues and memorials on the grounds. When in Pretoria, you really must visit the Union Buildings and its magnificent gardens.

Union Buildings

Table of Contents

History

The Union Buildings are regarded as South Africa’s masterpiece of architecture. The administrative offices of the Union of South Africa are housed in the Union Buildings, which Herbert Baker designed and built and finished in 1913. It still serves as the official seat of government and is home to the South African president’s offices. It looks out over the city from its location on Meintjieskop. Cape Town is where Parliament’s legislative branch is located.

The Building is more than 275 metres long and is constructed of light sandstone. It has two wings on either side and is constructed in the shape of a semi-circle. The English and the Afrikaners, two officially split nations, were symbolised by the wings. The Dellville Wood War Memorials, which honour South African soldiers who lost their lives in the First World War, are situated on the grounds. The tiered Gardens have a 9000-seat amphitheatre and are exquisitely planted only with native species. Within the magnificent Gardens, there are numerous Monuments and Statues.

The march of Afrikaner women to the Union Buildings in 1915 to demand a review of the prison sentences for those who revolted against the government’s decision to participate in the First World War was one of several significant events that took place there. Forty years later, in 1956, 20,000 women marched to the Union Buildings to deliver a message to Minister J.G. Strijdom in protest of the Apartheid legislation.