Tuesday, March 26, 2024


 The natural thing to do, once I got the big heavy book of Bulawayo sketches back to Dubai, was to get into Google street-view and see how the buildings are holding up.

Bit of a surprise to discover that street view doesn't cover Bulawayo. There are photos that you can get to pop up but no street view and no meshed 3d. It reminds me of the feeling I had when I moved to Zimbabwe in 1981. It was a bit like traveling back in time. Kitchen sinks were still using lead traps for the waste outlets 😳 That was the standard item available in builders hardware merchants. Plastic had yet to penetrate the market.


No street view, but I found Bulawayo Club, and the Rhodes statue, plus a few other reference images to help me resuscitate the research into Zimbabwe architecture that I began 3 or 4 decades ago.

No promises about how far I will go with this, but it has my attention for the moment, and will probably continue to pop up from time to time, long after it has shifted from centre focus.

Zimbabwe was my home for 23 years and my citizenship for more than 30. Important not to forget that



More pics of Bulawayo Club. These are freely available on the Internet. The club is now operating a boutique hotel on the side apparently. Probably necessary to keep the place afloat.

With its Mediterranean classicism and internal courtyard, this design has something in common with Harare townhouse. They are symbols of the colonial era, of course. Reminders of past inequalities. Unlike current inequalities in Zimbabwe the divide was primarily racial and there is much to regret about that era.


Still, the architecture has a certain dignity. I see no shame in admiring the proportions, the detailing and workmanship. It's not great architecture. It doesn't compare to the parthenon, or to Wright and Corb at their best. But it's in Bulawayo and it has something to add to the cultural depth and diversity of that fascinating city.

Classicism is a universal style. It belongs to all of us, partly because of how it reveals our shared human frailty. hat.



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