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Mr. Doerr’s Architectural Scavenger Hunt

February 24, 2015
How many different architectural styles can you find in Dublin Castle?

How many different architectural styles can you find in Dublin Castle?

On the second TAP trip I ever went on, we were walking through a very rainy and cold Dublin, Ireland when I realized it.  I realized that we were missing one of the most important learning opportunities you could get out of teaching and learning in a traveling global classroom like TAP has.

On my first trip to Italy, it was obvious, and we spent time on it, but somehow we had dropped the ball while preparing for Ireland.  Walking down the street, we marched past so many teachable moments that it was killing me.  Opportunities to explore history and understand culture were lining the street we walked down, and we were simply walking by it with our eyes straight ahead, missing all of it.

Standard Bank building in Cape Town.  Jordan says, "This building is of Anglo-Saxon design, as shown by its brick structure, similarities to Romanesque buildings, and its big design. It’s similar to Romanesque because of its semi-round arches on some windows, thick walls, and symmetrical design. It is set apart from Romanesque of its brick composition and narrow windows."  What do you all think?

Standard Bank building in Cape Town. Jordan says, “This building is of Anglo-Saxon design, as shown by its brick structure, similarities to Romanesque buildings, and its big design. It’s similar to Romanesque because of its semi-round arches on some windows, thick walls, and symmetrical design. It is set apart from Romanesque of its brick composition and narrow windows.” What do you all think?

On that first rainy morning, we walked straight into Dublin Castle.  The kids in our group aimed their cameras at every cool part of the castle, without really understanding what they were looking at.  I understood, though.  I understood exactly how much of “it” we were missing.

Standing in the courtyard for Dublin Castle while our Tour Director, Lorna, dashed off to get our tickets, I noticed… something look weird and yet very interesting.  The castle had so many different styles of architecture it was like a giant brick history book.

Dublin Castle isn’t what you think of when you think of Cinderella or Sleeping Beauty, and it isn’t what you’d imagine Robin Hood or the Three Musketeers raiding.  This castle has been built and rebuilt and destroyed and added to so many times that it wasn’t just one big castle, but a puzzle put together from different parts of history. Parts of the castle were built by the Vikings, part by the Normans.  It was part Gothic, part Anglo, part Georgian, and even a bit Victorian in its design.

Yazmine says the Castle of Good Hope (second oldest building in South Africa) is a Cape Dutch design.  What do you think?

Yazmine says the Castle of Good Hope (second oldest building in South Africa) is a Cape Dutch design. What do you think?

I knew enough to identify that the castle was built in bits and pieces throughout different parts of history, but I didn’t know enough to help the students in that group understand – first, why that’s awesome, and second, what that means.

That night in the hotel, I started making a sort of “Simple Man’s Guide to Architecture Throughout History” so that I’d be able to identify these types of buildings faster, and in turn, understand the building’s history that much faster.  There’s so much you can gain just by understanding how and when a building was built, and I wanted all future TAP students to have that knowledge.

The video in this post isn’t going to make any of you experts on any of the styles of architecture we’ll see or who created them, but it can give you a few critical keys to understanding, and therefore appreciating, architecture.

The styles of architecture in the video are just the beginning.  There is so much more than you’ll see in those few minutes.  Architectures styles often include sculpture, paintings, frescoes, and other elements that we didn’t get into yet.  Sometimes the eras of history blend together and you see architectural styles overlap and intertwine with other styles, making things quite unique, but also confusing.

Since South African architecture is going to be new to all of us, your assignment is to watch Mr. Doerr’s video embedded below, then research three buildings that you know we’ll see on our trip.  Take a look at the list of article topics on TAPopedia if you want or use WikiTravel and search for Johannesburg or Cape Town (or some of the smaller towns like Nelspruit or Hout Bay) for the most interesting or important buildings in those cities (you probably want to avoid the more modern buildings, because they won’t tell you much about history).  Find some good pictures of the buildings you selected and determine what style of architecture it is based on what you learned from the video.



First, watch the video, then in the comments section below, report back to us the following information:

  • The name of the building you selected.
  • What style of architecture you determined you’re looking at.
  • How did you figure that out?  What clues did the building give you?  What architectural elements did you see that made you believe that building was that style?  There are probably several answers to this question for each building you look at.
  • A link to a picture of the building so that we can click on it and see for ourselves what style of architecture you’re talking about.

Do this twice more for the other two buildings you chose, but if someone posted a building before you, try to avoid repeating the same buildings over and over.  Please have this activity done before our March 14th meeting.

Remember, it isn’t as simple as it sounds.  You have to notice the details and appreciate the whole scope of these works of art.  When we are walking through the many cities we will visit, I want to see those fingers pointing out the different styles and arguing why you think that building is Georgian and that one is Victorian and that one is Roman.  When you understand that, you’ll have a glimpse into history, and the world will truly be your classroom.


32 Comments leave one →
  1. Jordan Springer permalink
    February 25, 2015 9:08 pm

    Building 1: Standard Bank, Cape Town
    This building is of Anglo-Saxon design, as shown by its brick structure, similarities to Romanesque buildings, and its big design. It’s similar to Romanesque because of its semi-round arches on some windows, thick walls, and symmetrical design. It is set apart from Romanesque of its brick composition and narrow windows.,d.aWw&psig=AFQjCNG-UGfK5MdooT1j3_dKeE8VDUCseQ&ust=1424919684015668

    I’m working on the other two and will post them shortly.

    • February 26, 2015 7:15 am

      What does the dome on top tell you?

      • Jordan Springer permalink
        February 27, 2015 2:19 pm

        I think that the dome shows some Romanesque influence in the design.
        Building 2: The University of the Witwatersrand
        The building is Georgian-styled, identifiable by its symmetrical windows, cornices, and flat, boxy style.

        Building 3: Groote Kerk (Oldest Church in S.A.)
        This building is Gothic design,as indicated by the pointed windows and arches, as well as the spires on the top. On the inside, it has the famous ribbed vaults characteristic of the style.

        • Jordan Springer permalink
          March 6, 2015 5:48 pm

          When I said that the dome showed some Romanesque influence, I meant Renaissance.

  2. Yazmine Thomas permalink
    February 26, 2015 4:39 pm

    -Cape Town City Hall
    -Due to the building’s large columns, bay windows and dentils it is Victorian styled. It’s similar to a Renaissance building because it is symmetrical and contains semi-circle arches located by the entrance.

    -Francis Farewell Square
    – I believe this building is Renaissance styled because of it is symmetrical and has a large dome. However I do not believe the doors are square like most Renaissance styled buildings.
    -Castle of Good Hope (oldest building in South Africa)
    – I think this building is South African styled because of the Cape Dutch design depicted in the second photo.

    • February 27, 2015 7:10 am

      What makes the Castle of Good Hope a Cape Dutch design? Be specific.

      • Yazmine Thomas permalink
        February 27, 2015 8:35 am

        The Castle of Good hope is H shaped and has rounded gables which are also demonstrated in Cape Dutch designs. It was built between the 1666-1669 when Cape Dutch design was prominent.

  3. Brian Cottingim permalink
    February 27, 2015 9:06 pm

    The Johannesburg City Hall has some clues of Renaissance styled architecture because of the domes, its mostly symmetrical, the decorative arcs on the top, and the seemingly flat roof. But it also give you hints of Gothic styles. I think this way because of the spire on top, the painted window in the middle. The only explanation for all the columns is the Victorian style.,d.aWw&psig=AFQjCNFhmhbOAgK2uU3cg28bH4JANkkAng&ust=1425178916415144

    P.S. I will do the others, I didn’t want to loose “pick” on this building.

  4. Kelsie Stanley permalink
    February 28, 2015 2:21 pm

    1. A traditional Shangaan building incorporates the two South African styles because it uses mud, a thatched roof, and the the roof is round.
    2. Johannesburg city hall seems to be Georgian because of its boxy, symmetrical style. The dome on top shows a bit of Renaissance style.
    3. The Pretoria Union buildings look very Romanesque because of the semi round arches, its huge size, large towers, and its symmetry. The brick adds an Anglo-Saxon characteristic.

  5. Cameron Smith permalink
    February 28, 2015 5:53 pm

    The building I choose is the grahamstown cathedral and I think that it is a Norman style building because it has a pointed tower and arches all over the bulding. I could also tell by the shape of the roof. Here is a link to the image I found of it.

  6. Cameron Smith permalink
    February 28, 2015 6:02 pm

    My second building is the South Africa national gallery and I believe it is a South African style building because of the shape of the roof and the shape of the windows. Here is a link to the image of it.

  7. Cameron Smith permalink
    February 28, 2015 6:18 pm

    My third and final building is the melrose house and I think it is a boroque style building because of the shaped of the roof, the sculptures on the walls and the twisted columns. Here is a link to a picture of the building.

  8. Stephanie Melendez permalink
    March 1, 2015 5:19 pm

    Building 1: Graaff-Reinet
    I think this building is Gothic style because it has painted arches, a very long and tall spire at the top of the building, and painted windows.

    Building 2: Bo Kaap Museum
    I think this building is South African style because it is symmetrical and seems to be made out of mud and clay. There are also rigid bumps on top of the building that take place of the roof. Also, there is only one window on each side of the building as well as one main door.

    Building 3: East London City Hall in the Eastern Cape of South Africa
    I think this building is Victorian Renaissance style because the building is symmetrical, the windows are semi circle arches, and the ceilings are flat. It would also be considered Victorian because of it’s very long and pointed roof top as well as the columns throughout the whole building.
    (my computer is being weird and won’t let me add a link for the picture)

  9. Maddy Trouvais permalink
    March 2, 2015 9:31 pm

    Building 1: Houses of Parliament in Cape Town.
    This building isn’t any of the types of architecture in the video. This building would be considered a Corinthian Order of Greek and Roman architecture. It has the columns with the flower designs at the tops of the column and is very ordered and the proportions are set so that means that every building that is considered this are all similar proportionally. It is also very symmetrical.

    I have 2 more but I haven’t done them yet. They will come soon.

    *Note: I thought that that video was very unique and I really liked it. I really enjoyed watching this and I thought it was very clever.

  10. Hannah Breier permalink
    March 9, 2015 7:42 pm

    Building 1: The slave lodge, cape town. I feel that this building has a Renaissance style to it. The building is symmetrical, and has flat ceilings. It also has square doors and domes on the top. The design above the door gives it the final touch- the semi-circle arches.

    Building 2: “Bloemfontein” or National Women’s Monument. I feel that a large part of this building is Norman style because of its pointed towers, windows, and arches. Also, it’s two towers on the side. However, I feel that part of it is also Baroque style with it’s columns, sculptures, and empty spaces.

    Building 3: The Voortrekker Monument. I think this building is also a mix. It is part X-hosa built (mud) and it is part Romanesque style from it’s massive size, thick walls, large tower, and it also has arches.

    I thought this activity was very cool and different. It was interesting to see all the different types of architecture and how the “world can become your classroom”

  11. Dylan Blough permalink
    March 12, 2015 8:10 pm

    Building 1: The Rissik Street Post Office in Johannesburg

    I think that this building is an example of renaissance style architecture because the building is symmetrical with flat ceilings and square doors. In addition to that, there is a dome on the very top of the building, as well as semi-circle arches in some of the windows.

    You can find a picture at :

    The next two are on the way

  12. Dylan Blough permalink
    March 12, 2015 8:47 pm

    Building 2: Johannesburg City Library

    I also think that this building is in the renaissances style. I think this because the ceiling is flat and the doors are square shaped. There isn’t a dome, but there are semi-circle arches above the doors. The building is also symmetrical

    A Picture is available at:

  13. Dylan Blough permalink
    March 12, 2015 9:57 pm

    Building 3: The Union Building in Pretoria

    I think that this building is a renaissances example of architecture. There is a flat roof and two domes that are symmetrical. There are semi-circle windows as well as square doors.

    Picture :

  14. erin seymour permalink
    March 13, 2015 4:11 pm

    Building 1: Capetown city hall. I believe that this building is built in the style Italian renaissance. The windows are all congruent and symmetrical. The balcony’s are al the same. The windows are semi-circles and the pillars in the door way are very much alike to renaissance Victorian.;_ylt=A0LEViMDUQNVcpkA7yYPxQt.;_ylu=X3oDMTB0dmRibmhwBHNlYwNzYwRjb2xvA2JmMQR2dGlkA1lIUzAwMV8x?p=city+hall+capetown+south+africa&–1217214-3.jpg&size=277KB&name=cape-town–1217214-3.jpg&

  15. erin seymour permalink
    March 13, 2015 4:24 pm

    I’m sorry I don’t know what happened with that link.
    Building 2: My second building is the Bertram house. I believe this house is in the style late Georgia. The building has a row of windows towards the roof of the house. all the windows are exactly the same and have old doors on the windows made of wood and are carved. the building also has lower windows that are taller and also have the dark green wooden doors around the windows. The shape of the house and the roof is also a clue. The doorway is in the Georgia style.

  16. erin seymour permalink
    March 13, 2015 4:26 pm

    link to second house:;_ylt=A0LEVvFLVANVwCUARiUPxQt

  17. erin seymour permalink
    March 13, 2015 4:50 pm

    building 3: Rissik street post office building built in 1897. this building is very old. It is a French style building with some Dutch given its stairs, it’s middle leading up to the clock town and the curved windows at the very bottom of the building;_ylt=A0LEVjWPVwNVWysAMzAPxQt.;_ylu=X3oDMTB0dmRibmhwBHNlYwNzYwRjb2xvA2JmMQR2dGlkA1lIUzAwMV8x?p=historical+buildings+in+johannesburg&…&sigr=11l3alvi2&sigi=12kfu5m80&sign=10qs1i75s&sigt=1034t694l&sigb=1qt6bmhga&fr=yhs-iry-fullyhosted_003&hspart=iry&hsimp=yhs-fullyhosted_003

  18. Haley Watson permalink
    March 13, 2015 5:41 pm

    Building #1- Iziko South African Museum

    I think this building has a Cape Dutch architectural style. The building is symmetrical and has rounded gables.

  19. Haley Watson permalink
    March 13, 2015 5:58 pm

    building #2: Old Standard Bank of South Africa.

    I think this building has a Norman architectural style because I has a lot of arches and narrow windows. I felt like it also had a lot of the same characteristics of a renaissance style because it had flat ceilings, and its symmetrical, but the doors aren’t square so I felt it was more a Norman Style than anything.

  20. Haley Watson permalink
    March 13, 2015 6:06 pm

    building #3: Old Capitol Theature

    I think this building has a Renaissance architectural style because it has domes, symmetry, as well as semi circle arches.

  21. Kate Gall permalink
    March 29, 2015 5:53 pm

    Building #1: Voortrekker Monument
    This building is Romanesque style because of its large size, think walls, and many arches.

    Building #2: Pretoria Monument
    This building is Georgian style because of it’s roof that faces downward, it’s large amount of windows, and it’s symmetrical look.

    Building #3: Nieu Bethesda Church
    This building is part Anglo-Saxon and part Norman style.
    The Nieu Bethesda Church is part Anglo-Saxon because of it’s brick exterior and a west side tower. The church is part Norman style because of all of it’s narrow/ pointed windows, and because of it’s many arches.

  22. Gianna Kriechbaum permalink
    April 1, 2015 6:28 pm
    my first choice was the Iziko South African museum. This seems to be a “cape dutch style” which i see because of the symmetry.
    my second choice is the cape town city hall. with this, once again, i see the cape dutch style because of symmetry
    my final choice was the johannesburg city library (i loooove books) i see renaissance style architecture because of the flat top, and how its mostly flat all around, and the square windows

  23. Ronnie Stovall permalink
    April 8, 2015 9:02 pm

    Since I chose to complete this assignment just a tad bit late, a lot of the buildings have already been chosen. So the first building I decided chose is located in Johannesburg at the Timbavati lodge were we will be staying. This building is a traditional African style building it has the xhosa- rounded roof , closely related to example .

    The second photo is of a church in South Africa a Gothic style church with the spire, pointed arches, painted windows,


    The Third building is another church in South Africa, It looks like the Anglo Saxon style church with brick , similar to the roman tower is on the west side I’m pretty sure.

    This assignment was very hard, I went over the examples over and over again. I’m still uncertain if all of the buildings I selected are correct but I tried. The easiest of them all was the African style building. The others all require a good eye for detail, and pretty good knowledge of the terms under each architectural style.

  24. Ronnie Stovall permalink
    April 8, 2015 9:06 pm
    It didn’t show on my first post

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