The University of Pretoria’s Department of Architecture and Enterprises University of Pretoria’s research project, NZASM Footsteps along the tracks, 1887–1899 has been honoured by South Africa’s highest award for architecture: the Corobrik South African Institute for Architecture (SAIA) Award for Excellence in Architecture. An award for excellence is the highest accolade for architecture that the SAIA can bestow on a project.

This shared heritage project was supported by the Royal Netherlands Embassy in Pretoria. This is the second time a shared heritage research project of the Department of Architecture has been honoured in this manner.

The biennial award was made public at the South African Institute for Architects gala ceremony held in Pretoria. The award was handed over to the project leads, Prof Roger Fisher and Mr Nicholas Clarke.

The NZASM Footsteps along the tracks project collaborated with the South African Heritage Resources Agency (SAHRA) and Transnet. The aim was to identify, document and disseminate information on the residue of the “Nederlandsche Zuid-Afrikaansche Spoorweg-Maatschappij” (NZASM). The NZASM was a Dutch company that built more than 1 400 km of railways in the former Zuid-Afrikaansche Republiek (Transvaal) between 1887 and 1899.

The NZASM Footsteps along the tracks project was able to identify more than 360 still-extant built structures, many of which are still in place and continue to serve South Africa after more than a century. The report underwent a double-blind peer review and is published as an e-book.

In awarding the project with excellence the adjudicating panel stated: “What is also noteworthy regarding this excellent research project is how much we can all learn from it to understand our current infrastructural position and that which might come in future.”

The NZASM footsteps along the tracks report can be downloaded here.

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Above: Mr Nicholas Clarke (left) and Prof Roger Fisher (right) receiving the 2018 Corobrik SAIA Award for Excellence in Architecture from Ms Maryke Cronje, the President of SAIA and Mr Musa Shangase, the Corobrik representative.