'Who am I': Elwyn Harlach-Jones

DECEMBER 9, 2015

Port Elizabeth has produced some of the greatest South Africans, who have made immense contributions to our society. One of these great personalities, without a doubt, is Elwyn Harlach-Jones, who remains actively involved in the local architecture, construction and heritage sectors after four decades of dedicated service. This is his story. 

I am a practicing Professional Architect, Construction Manager and Heritage Practitioner, who has been involved in Private Practice and Academic Research for the past 40 years, having qualified with a Bachelor of Architecture at the University of Cape Town in 1972.

I reside in Port Elizabeth, in the Eastern Cape, where the main thrust of my professional work in the Built Environment has been involved with commercial, retail and industrial centres and residential condominiums.

Specialist work includes heritage management and academic research, Architectural building restoration, environmental heritage conservation projects, Contract Dispute Resolution and on-site construction Project Management Administration.  

Apart from my professional Architectural work in the Built Environment, I have taught an elective Module at the Environmental Learning Centre at Rhodes University (in partnership with the South African Heritage Resource Agency (SAHRA) for a training Course to accredit Heritage Practitioners for the Professional Development Certificate Course in Integrated Heritage Resource Management Practice.

I am now undertaking a Professional Structured Candidacy Workplace Review Program for Architectural Interns and Candidates upgrading to Professional status for the Council for the Built Environment (CBE), and assessing Candidates upgrading to Professional status for the South African Council for the Project and Construction Management Professions (SACPCMP).

I have delivered academic Papers and attended numerous International Conferences overseas, including India, Sri Lanka, the United Kingdom, Spain and in South Africa, which have been published internationally.

I have also taught at Schools of Architecture in Port Elizabeth and Mumbai, India, and am a well-known artist.

My artworks maybe found in many galleries, homes and corporate offices.

My interests and professional work over the last seven years has been primarily in the field of Heritage Education and in the conservation of artefacts in the Built Environment, which has involved the restoration of a number of farm buildings in the Karoo and am presently the Heritage Consultant and Architectural adviser on two projects situated respectively in the Water Kant area of Green Point in Cape Town and Richmond Hill in Port Elizabeth.

I leave thoughts regarding the current debates surrounding the conservation and protection of our Heritage resources, which will provide you as the reader with an idea of the basic concepts which underpin my professional work and passion conserving our heritage resources.

Cultural heritage includes tangible culture such as buildings, monuments, landscapes, books, works of art, and artefacts and intangible culture such as folklore, traditions, language, and knowledge, whilst natural heritage includes culturally significant landscapes, and biodiversity.

It is becoming increasingly difficult to define what ‘heritage’ or ‘cultural heritage’ means in these rapidly changing environments that we live in. If it is an old colonial statue or building is it therefore a ‘foreign’ symbol of oppression?

We have been led to believe that it could be thus so, but need to keep in mind that the way and manner of studying and understanding heritage has important implications for the ways in which we deal with the presence of the past in our contemporary society, and how heritage is connected with broader issues such as sustainability and environmental change.

It should be remembered that Heritage can change over time and may mean different things to different people, so what is considered heritage by one generation may be rejected by the next generation, only to be revived by a succeeding generation?

David Lowenthal  in his book, 'The Past is a Foreign Country', observes that preserved objects also validate memories, which draws people in and gives them a literal way of touching the past.

Objects may be viewed as important to the study of human history because they provide a concrete basis for ideas, by embodying their own narratives.

I may pose the question whether this is not a justification to protect our heritage resources?

The application and implementation of Heritage conservation practices in South Africa in recent years has to some degree been limited to a narrow focus on the demands of certain interest groups, which has distorted the notion that the conservation of our heritage resources is an inclusive rather than an exclusive imperative?

The management of our Heritage resources should be extended into a broader more critical debate and considered as an all-encompassing concept within the context of global conservation processes.

I will endeavour in a follow up article to provide you with an insight of how I have endeavoured and managed to rescript traditional architectural thought and practices, through my professional work over the past few years.

 

Accreditations:

  • Registered with the South African Council for the Architectural Professions
  • Registered with the South African Council for the Project and Construction Management Professions
  • Accredited Heritage Practitioner with the Association of Professional Heritage Practitioners (APHP)
  • Registered with the South African Heritage Agency (SAHRA) as a Heritage Practitioner and Trainer Service Provider
  • Registered with the Council for the Built Environment (CBE) as an Assessor for Professional Registration of Candidates
  • Registered with the Council for the Project and Construction Managers Professions (SACPCMP) as an Assessor for Professional Registration of Candidates
  • Member of the South African Council for the Architectural Professions (SACAP) Panel of Experts Validation Committee to inspect education standards at Schools of Architecture in South Africa.
  • Diploma Certificate from the Environmental Learning Research Centre at Rhodes University to train Heritage Practitioners in Integrated Heritage Resource
  • Management Practices
  • Member of The South African Institute of Architects (SAIA), the Eastern Cape Region of The South African Institute of Architects (ECRSAIA),
  • The International Association of People Environmental Studies (IAPES), South African Visual Art History Association (SAVAH)

You can get in touch with him at 321 Candlewood Lane, Love more Park, Port Elizabeth, or by calling + 27 (0) 82 9320041 or via E-mail: [email protected].

Main image: courtesy of www.classof64.co.za