Start main page content

Chipkin receives honorary doctorate

- By Wits University

Wits University conferred an honorary doctorate on the preeminent architectural historian of Johannesburg, Clive Chipkin, as part of the University’s annual June graduations.

Chipkin graduated with a B Arch degree from Wits University in 1954. His practice both rejected and contested apartheid and never participated in any government, provincial or municipal work during the apartheid era (1948-1994). His professional practice has mirrored his values. In 1986 he was a founding member of the group Architects against Apartheid, an informal pressure group that challenged their colleagues to support radical changes to the Architects’ Act of 1970 and the Code of Conduct of the Institute of South African Architects.

Chipkin’s contribution to the profession of architecture, and to scholarship and research, has been outstanding. He has contributed to the deepened understanding of the city of Johannesburg’s cultural, social and historical surrounds. Chipkin, through the practice of his profession, has sought to promote affirmative action and educational values since the 1960s. In his scholarship and professional life he has demonstrated leadership and has sought to make a difference in the lives of many students and colleagues.

In his address to the graduands, Chipkin referred to his time working as an assistant to Rusty Bernstein, a principal author of the Freedom Charter.

“With Rusty I helped work out the layout plan for COP – the Congress of the People – on a dusty soccer field next to the railway line in Kliptown, an event planned for late June 1955. That is the reason, in my potted biography that has appeared in several places, I have written ‘In retrospect, the most momentous project of my career turned out to be the gum-pole and hessian single seater privies at the Congress of the People, Kliptown 1955’.”

Read the full citation

Read Chipkin's address