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Social Sciences Building, East Campus, University of the Witwatersrand, 1960s|
(b. Berlin, Germany 1907; d. Spain, November 1992)
Steffen Ahrends was born in Berlin, Germany in 1907. He studied architecture at the University of Berlin-Charlottenburg and at the Bauhochschule in Weimar after which he joined his father's architectural office in Berlin. In 1931 he joined the Ernst May Group in Moscow but quickly returned to his father's studio where he remained until 1936 when he emigrated to South Africa and established an office in Johannesburg. He has worked with several partners since that time.
Ahrends' work can be placed into two categories; one rational and the other romantic. He exhibits a rational attitude towards his large collective use buildings for which he borrowed extensively from the International Style. These buildings exhibit high technology with a regional flavor. Ahrends designs his residential buildings with a more romantic attitude which blends industrial technology with the more traditional materials of Gothic, baroque and vernacular architecture.
Ahrends designs his buildings based on client needs, site-constraints, and climatic conditions. While he uses more industrial materials for his larger buildings, he incorporates natural finishes and materials into most of his residential work. His sensitive handling of space, light and form have made him one of the most influential architects within Africa.
The Creator's Words
"...as to the design and decision-making I may say that I never designed houses as my clients really wanted them nor as I would have like(d) to have had them but in a way which I thought was the right answer for that particular client: and that created the 'success'." Ahrends 1990
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