Six decades of city building

2010-11-26 00:00

THE longevity of an architectural firm that celebrates its 60th anniversary this year has enabled it to observe Pietermaritzburg’s transformation while also participating in changing the face of the city.

The Brian Servant Partnership (BSP), was established in November 1950 as Geoffrey Le Suer and Partners with Victor Fouchè as the Architect in charge.

Brian Servant — who is 78 years old and still participates actively in the business — told The Witness that the name of the firm changed over the period to Victor F. Fouchè, followed by Fouchè and Servant and later to Brian Servant Partnership.

Servant has been involved in a string of landmark projects over the decades, including:

- The new classroom block for Maritzburg College;

- Linpark High School;

- Cedara Agricultural College workshop and lecture theatre block;

- The original Scottsville Racecourse buildings;

- Gilbeys Distillers and Vintners bottling and distribution centre at Prospecton (south of Durban);

- All Saints United Church in Athlone;

- Umgeni Water building in Mkondeni;

- The Stanger Hospital care block;

- Trident Building offices (Church Street);

- The foundations of Edendale Hospital;

- Addington nurses’ home (Durban);

- Fort Napier Hospital forensic block;

- Completion of Harry Gwala Stadium.

His passion for geometrical drawings at school eventually led Servant to the Roads Department (Natal Provincial Administration). Later, he joined the Building Services Department and completed a diploma in Architecture, eventually followed by a Masters in Architecture.

Servant said his passion for architecture was ignited by his brother, Dr Oscar Servant, who holds a PhD in Architecture.

“Housing has been a passion of mine. It’s an interesting subject because every house is different. Every house is a challenge and finding a solution is rewarding. Every client has their own preferences and ideas,” (Brian) Servant said.

Servant still holds a particular affinity for Victorian buildings.

“Back in the earlier days, the city was friendly and clean. It was only later that they began building the larger multi-storey buildings that spoilt the skyline of the city.

“The pink brick buildings have always been attractive and unique. Some of the noteworthy buildings include the various Victorian buildings, the City Hall, the Colonial Building, the Natal Museum, the Legislature building, the Post Office building and Natalia.”

The team at BSP includes Ryan McFie, Rhett Roberts, Curt Lawrence, Shiela Brewer, Käthe Rowlands and Di Moffett.

McFie praised the sterling contribution of Servant to the city’s architectural landscape, as well as his calm and generous nature.

Servant does not plan on retiring in the near future.

“I still enjoy coming into work and solving problems.”

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