Community information services

Some photographs

Special thanks to Randy Juster for permission to use some of his photos (see below). Check out his interesting web site where you will find a range of art deco resources. Also, remember that there are more photographs and a very detailed discussion about the building on Wikipedia; do go there and check it out.

Click on the thumbnail to see a larger version of the photo, then use your browser's "back"  button to get back here

© Google Earth

This Google Earth view shows the building from above, and some of Cape Town's well known features.  If you have Google Earth installed, click here to download the KMZ file that will take you directly to the building - you can save the file (it is very small) or you can use it to invoke Google Earth and "go" directly to the satellite view. It's a pit that the perspective of the Google Earth view shows the back rather than the front of the building. 
The familiar frontage of the building, taken from Darling Street.  Pity about the street light that sits in front of the front door -  but we have a version of this photo where that has been airbrushed out (go back to our front page, and compare the two photos carefully!).  

The triangular or "prismatic" windows are the most distinctive feature of the building, together with the heads of lions, elephants and baboons, and the frieze ...

 ... that goes around much of the building.  It was sculpted by Ivan Mitford-Barberton who also "did" the statue of Jan Smuts at the top of Adderley Street.  It depicts major events in the history of the country and is reportedly one of the longest such friezes in the world. 
Here is some detail from it.  From where I am sitting, I can see at least a family, a soldier, and an indigen.  Also higher on the wall in Parliament Street are depictions of the heads of the principal African tribes:  Xhosa, Masai, Kikuyu, Pedi and Bushman are all included.  One day, someone will record and analyse the whole work meticulously (any volunteers?), but for now this clip will have to suffice.

© Randy Juster

The amazing "assembly room" (sometimes referred to as the Fresco Room) ... this is the room with the 6m curtains referred to elsewhere.  This room is still (at the time of writing) owned by Old Mutual (any offers?), but once a year they allow the annual general meeting to take place in this glorious setting.  

© Randy Juster
The famous Le Roux frescos are unique ...  

© Randy Juster
 ... as this richly coloured detail from one of the frescos shows.  From hurricane lamps and wheelbarrows (at the bottom) this segment takes us right through to heavy industry and monster dams.  Do I even see a wine barrel in there, as well?  
The stairs from the main front door are sufficient to put any visitor in their place, and take their breath away before attempting to explain their purpose at the security "pill box" at the top ... it features lots of chromium, black and brown veined marble, and polished granite.  Beyond the tall window at the rear is the banking hall. 
 Note the way that the pattern etched on the glass echoes the external shape of the building.
Like the assembly room, the banking hall itself is still (at the time of writing) owned by Old Mutual (again, any offers?), but once a year they allow the Christmas Party to take place in this magnificent surrounding.  Soft lights, sweet music, good company and a Christmas Tree all make for a memorable celebration of the end of the year. 
There are six passenger lifts (and one service lift) in the building, and each door has an engraving.  The original Old Mutual logo, flora or fauna - you will see few lifts today with such ornate decoration. Being stainless steel (or are they chrome?) they are really difficult to photograph successfully.

© Randy Juster
 Randy Juster did much better using available light.  These engravings are another feature of the building that needs to be placed on record and catalogued. 
The atrium in the centre of the building was originally an open light well, but it now is protected from the weather by a transparent roof, providing dry access to the apartments. 

This atrium is "just like Sing-Sing prison", some people say.  Well, you can check that out at wikipedia , where you will find some photos and be able to make some comparisons!  Our security personnel at Mutual Heights are much, much friendlier than the Sing-Sing warder pictured here (and exactly who are those two guys hanging around?)  

The higher you go in the building, the better the view.  This is Table Mountain as seen from the seventh level. 
And finally, no, this is not sunset it is dawn.  The Hottentots Holland mountains are in the distance, and the tower is (as all Capetonians will know) a feature of the City Hall that is opposite the Grand Parade.  It is from the balcony of this building that Nelson Mandela first addressed the crowds following his release from jail. 

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Last updated:
26 April 2019
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