Observatory, Johannesburg


Once we had completed the SAIEE’s new headquarters across the courtyard from this Heritage Building, it was the turn of the vacated original building to be renovated. The original structure dating from 1910 and built by the Public Works Department, was probably the fruit of Herbert Baker’s Architectural office, though no drawings bearing his name were found. Nonetheless, the triple-arched facades, chimney designs and the corner quoining are all clues that it could be one of Baker’s work.



The building was hardly modified during its centenary history, with only slight modifications on the interior to update the building to an office with the necessary ablution facilities and a small kitchen. Originally the house served as a residence for the chief astronomer, Robert Innes, who lived in it with his family and would work at night mapping almost the entire hemisphere of the Southern Skies from the various Telescope buildings on site. The rooms were therefore of a domestic scale and served for about 20 years as the SAIEE’s headquarters until the staff contingent necessitated a larger building. The rooms were suitable for the wide range of the Institute’s most precious archive material that was organized in sections, for example the telephone room and the radio room etc. The material is available for viewing by appointment only.


The renovation primarily consisted in restoring the building’ original finishes and character, while allowing for modern lighting that would allow for the proper and comfortable viewing of displayed artefacts.



Innes House, Electrical Engineering Museum and Archives


SA Institute of Electrical Engineers