Mosendane House, Rockville, Soweto
In 1975, Ann Sutton invited Peter Dayson and Johan de Villiers – who had both just graduated from the then very new four-year degree course in Landscape Architecture at Pretoria University – to join her practice, forming Sutton, Dayson & De Villiers. Their offices were located at Hyde Park Shopping Centre in the northern suburbs, and the partnership lasted until roughly 1980, when Sutton relocated to the Cape.
During this time, Sutton and Dayson were commissioned to work on the garden of the late Dr Johnny Mosendane. Situated in Rockville, Moroka, Soweto, the five-bedroomed all-brick house had been designed by Michael Sutton and David Walker, and featured split-level reception rooms with a wood-burning fireplace, unusual barrel vaulted ceilings and sky lights. With its swimming pool and tranquil gardens designed by Sutton and Dayson, it was described as ‘both tranquil and an entertainer’s dream’.
When the house was placed on the market for R3-million at the end of 2015, a friend forwarded the information to Dayson, who responded: ‘Good lord and we, Ann and I, did the garden. The project was completed just after the Soweto riots in 1976. We were invited to the house warming but I was too scared to go! How times have changed. He was a wonderful, gentle man and couldn’t have been that old. He and his wife both drove Rolls Royces, as I recall. Thanks for that.’ ‘You don’t really hear of these kinds of stories when you look back at apartheid history or the history of Soweto,’ says Thozama Mputa. ‘You don’t really hear of the interactions with designers and how they shaped the township.’