The Harry Oppenheimer house was constructed for the sorting of all diamonds mined by De Beers in Southern Africa.
Since diamonds are best sorted by gentle natural light, the building has windows only on the south side to allow optimum indirect natural light conditions.
Building Type: High Rise
Structural Material: Concrete
Foundation System: Pile Foundation
Architectural Style: Moderism
Height: 52.92 meters
Floors: 14 above ground.
Completed in: 1973
Architecths: Hentrich & Partners subsequently renamed Hentrich Bergs & Associates
Main Usage: Diamond sorting and commercial offices.
The Harry Oppenheimer House share the spot as the second tallest building in Kimberley with the Eskom Tower Building (also called the Capitec Bank Building and the Trust Bank Building)
The design of the building was started in 1967-8 by the architectural team of Hentrich & Partners which was subsequently renamed to Hentrich Bergs & Associates who were also involved with the diamond sorting buildings in Gaborone Botswana, Luanda Angola as well as various other buildings for the De Beers Group of companies.
FROM The Life & Times of Bill Hart on http://soonthemoon.blogspot.co.za By MAIA MATCHES Friday, January 7, 2011
On the 4th of January, we were invited to have drinks with Bill’s old friend, Hanns Bergs. Hanns was once on the jury to appoint an artist to design an artwork for the entrance of the de Beers building in Kimberley, Bill won the commission with his little maquette for the relief painting, (shown above). Hanns describes the installation process:
“When Bill and Keith were assembling the enormous mural on site in Kimberley I often went to supervise the building construction, watching as Bill and Keith laboured to lift up the heavy panels which were to be fixed to the concrete wall.
When I arrived on this particular day, I had the gut feeling that the mural was somehow smaller then Bill had promised and after much discussion Bill finished the argument by saying: I am an artist and I am entitled to change my mind and make the mural smaller!
I responded: Then we will have to reduce the payment as well! Bill didn’t like that at all! So in the end we all agreed that the mural looks great and suits the look that I wanted.”
Hanns has told me that the building still stands and Bill Hart’s mural will still be there! This is good news, particularly because I am led to believe that a lot of Bill’s work may have been destroyed under the new government of South Africa. Many buildings were re-designed after apartheid.
I have yet to go to Kimberley, it is quite far from Cape Town, where I now reside.
I am however, very keen to see some of Bill’s artwork, especially the large-scaled works.
This building is also commonly referred to by residents as:
The De Beers Sorting House
The De Beers Trade Centre
Credits & References
- African Identity in Post-apartheid Public Architecture: White Skin, Black Masks
- Hentrich Bergs & Associates
- The Life & Times of Bill Hart http://soonthemoon.blogspot.co.za/2011/01/bill-hart-model-for-de-beers-relief.html