The documented legacy of South African architect Norman Musgrave Eaton (1902–
1966), as preserved at the University of Pretoria, provides the material for a contemporary
analysis and extrapolation of his domestic oeuvre through the construction
of a biographical-disciplinary context and chronology. Why and how Eaton’s
domestic architecture expresses its lineage of forms, space, material, and detail
are explored in this study.
Eaton’s architectural oeuvre demonstrates a rare encounter between the Modern Movement and Africa. The residential architecture of Eaton, he being based in
Pretoria, draws strongly on the African monumental past, while denoting both a
regional and universal consciousness. Local influences are drawn from diverse
sources: Cape Dutch architecture, Great Zimbabwe, Eastern Africa and the unselfconscious
architectural endeavours of the Ndebele.
Through the systematization of his records, the researcher is able to set up a
biography within context in order to capture the critical moments in Eaton’s development
and his designer’s mind. The chronological study of his domestic drawings
further allows for the tracing of African and other influences in relation to his
travels and their translation into architectural expression. Typological plan compositions
and motifs emerge with clarity to aid in providing a critical appraisal of his
Dissertation (MArch)--University of Pretoria, 2013.