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Rijks van der Walt was an architect, arbitrator and founding partner of MV3 Architects (Pty) Ltd. Van der Walt was born in Namibia in 1929, matriculated at Rondebosch Boys' High School in 1946 and qualified in 1953 with a BArch degree from the University of Cape Town. Shortly after marrying Noreen Bryant, the couple moved to Kenya where Van der Walt was employed between 1954 and 1962 in an architectural practice. On their return to South Africa, in 1965 he teamed up with Piet Moolman and Basie van Rensburg to form a three-man partnership in Pretoria, known as Moolman van der Walt Architects. In 1969 the company amalgamated with Vlok & Van der Westhuizen to form MV3 Architects.
Van der Walt had a passion for the theatre and designed the Johannesburg Opera House in Auckland Park, which unfortunately never saw the light of day. His love of the theatre was rewarded when, in 1975, MV3 Architects was appointed for the project of the Ettienne Rousseau Theatre in Sasolburg, which Rijks designed and the building contract of which he managed. So successful was this 500-seat theatre, that Sasol appointed MV3 Architects to build an almost identical theatre in 1984 in Secunda, which again was designed and constructed under his supervision. In the late 1980s, MV3 was commissioned for the new Armscor Head Office in Erasmusrand. Under his constant management, this project was completed on time and within budget and, most importantly, to the entire satisfaction of the client.
Towards the latter part of his career, Van der Walt obtained his diploma in arbitration and was heavily involved in a number of cases. He and Noreen lived for most of their marriage on a smallholding in Lyttleton, where they brought up their four children in a delightful thatched cottage. He loved the simple things in life, such as tending his extensive rose garden. After he retired from active practice, the couple relocated to Hermanus where they designed and built a modern version of a “fisherman’s cottage". Van der Walt developed a great interest in the local fynbos and studied the many varieties growing in his area; he also had a keen interest and involvement in local community affairs.
Van der Walt died in December 2013 after contracting Parkinson’s disease, which left him bedridden for the last months of his life. His death occurred just two months after his wife Noreen was brutally attacked in their Hermanus home and died shortly thereafter in hospital from the wounds inflicted on her.
Based on a tribute by Stanley H Segal in Architecture South Africa, Issue 71, Jan/Feb 2015, page 5, accessible on-line at http://saia.org.za/wp-content/uploads/2015/05/ASA-Edition71_LR.pdf and a comprehensive biographical timeline compiled by Dr Basil Brink based on the documents in the collection and other sources, and contained in File A Personal and memorabilia of the collection, and on the administrative file for the collection.