Heritage in South Africa is faced with many challenges. Legislative requirements, especially with regard to the compilation of asset registers in towns and cities are largely not complied with. Most cities have not obtained competency to deal with local monuments. Interface with implementing agencies sometimes also present challenges. On the other hand, conservation education at tertiary level is progressing well and CPD courses for interested architects are well supported. It is however the regional committees that are still playing a vital role in conservation in their respective constituencies.

SAIA aims to promote and maintain the architectural environment and cultural heritage in South Africa. The Institute adopted as its Heritage Policy the Robben Island Vision in 2001.

SAIA’s advocacy of heritage related and work is undertaken at two levels, at National level through the SAIA Executive (nominated representatives from the Board) and national office, whilst regional interactions are undertaken by SAIA Regions through their respective Habitat committees.  SAIA Regional Heritage Committees are active collaborating with Provincial Heritage Authorities

South African Heritage Resources Agency (SAHRA) 
The South African Heritage Resources Agency is a statutory organisation established in terms of the National Heritage Resources Act (No 25 of 1999) as the national body responsible for the protection of South Africa’s cultural heritage resources

SAHRA released its SAHR information system (SAHRIS (insert hyperlink in 2012 which offers an online platform for the recording of heritage resources and is a useful tool for architects.

International Conservation and Heritage (ICOMOS)

The International Council on Monuments and Sites is an international non-governmental organisation of professionals, dedicated to the conservation of the world’s historic monuments and sites. It has adopted a wide range of Charters on heritage related issues since 1964. The international policies and charters are available on a single download  (pdf format) containing all additional documents.

Click here to view

International Committee for Documentation and Conservation of buildings, sites and neighbourhoods of the Modern Movement  (DoCoMoMo)

SAIA is registered with the international body, whilst the South African Chapter has been established by Heritage Portfolio members.

The focus of DoCoMoMo has been on the identification of significant twentieth century modern buildings to be listed.  The criteria used for the listing has been the work of recognised major architects where their entire oeuvre is listed as well as specific buildings by other architects. In the identification of buildings to be listed those buildings which received provincial awards have been listed, particularly in the Western Cape where the awards go back to the mid Thirties.  In addition particular typologies have been recognised so that buildings which have social and political significance are also taken into consideration. In Cape Town particular attention has, for example, been placed on the buildings of the clothing industry that demonstrate important aspects of the modern movement in their planning.

The listing is still very incomplete and although some parts of areas such as Cape Town have been listed, much remains to be done in order to produce a reasonably comprehensive list of significant modern buildings in South Africa. These buildings are, by their nature, generally less than sixty years old, and therefore not protected under the South African Heritage Resources Act. The lists need not only to be populated but all buildings listed need to be evaluated using a rigorous set of criteria that corresponds with the criteria established by DoCoMoMo International. An important part of the listing is the completion of evaluation microfiches of the buildings which are then listed on the international database which records modern buildings of importance around the world.

The local DoCoMoMo group has been active in a number of centres in South Africa with the Western Cape group the most active although there are a number of members of DoCoMoMo in the rest of the country who have undertaken surveys of their areas. One of the focuses for the next year is the structuring of the societies at local level and the development of regional and national structures.

Support Legal Action

SAIA has financially supported legal action pertaining to building of national importance, and works in collaboration with Cape Town Heritage Trust and Parktown Heritage Trust and similar organisations.

Heritage Short Course Development

SAIA is in the process of entering into a collaborative initiative with various stakeholders in the delivery of CPD validated activities to increase specialist capacity. A task team has been established in 2010 to deliver on the objectives.

Heritage Asset Application Assessments

A number of the SAIA Regions offer assistance relating to the built environment. The Habitat National Committee constitutes reputable heritage specialists drawn from all regional structures.

Convenor (BoR) ECIA Prof Albrecht Herholdt
Assisted by (BoR) CIfA Prof André van Graan
KZNIA Nina Saunders
KZNIA Trish Emmett
NCIA Henk van de Wall
Committee Members CIfA Laura Robinson
FSIA Anton Roodt
GIfA Brian McKechnie
PIA Nicholas Clarke/Helene Potgieter
SAIA Secretariat Manager HerHab Diane Arvanitakis
Regional Contacts BKIA Christopher Hepburn
MPIA Gerhard Jooste

Since April 200 SHiFT acted as the delivery agent for the Habitat and Heritage Portfolio, a not-for-profit organization with the cross cutting expertise to manage and coordinate the activities of the SAIA objectives. SHiFT responds to SAIA’s policies and protocols in the delivery of the portfolio activities.