Vernon Mathews Obituary, Death – After a brief illness, 64-year-old architect Vernon Daniel Mathews died abruptly on Saturday, April 29, 2023. I met 9-year-old Vernon when we were both enrolled in Saturday morning lessons at the Woodstock Art Centre, which served the thriving District 6 at the time and was later dismantled by the apartheid Group Areas Act. Thanks to a dedicated staff, it survived as the Zonnebloem Art Centre, where Vernon and I continued and were given a strong foundation in drawing and conceptual skills to study and practice architecture.
Vernon excelled academically and artistically. Vernon and I taught in the Peninsula Technikon’s Architecture Department in the 1980s and early 1990s after attending UCT in the 1970s. The Department helped change the national curriculum for Technikons’ program from one that focused on technical support for architects to one that included design and studiowork. This eliminated the illusory divide between technical and design tasks and prepared students to work as professionals in their fields.
Vernon enjoyed inspiring students to pursue architecture and formed lasting bonds with them. Vernon studied under Gavin Pike and Dieter Bossöw at Architects Associated and Louis Karol Architects after graduating from UCT in 1983. He started a long-term partnership with Munnik Visser Architects. Henk Stutterheim of MVA says, ‘For more than 20 years my partner in practice, Paul Munnik, told me tales of his best pal, Vernon Mathews.
He informed me about their UCT architecture studies, postgraduate work in Namibia, and European trips. Vernon moved into the office next door. Over time and many conversations, I got to know a truly exceptional man as a working architect, a mentor to his juniors, and a father to Liyaam. Quiet, humble, dedicated to craft and career. A humble, graceful, and smiling man who left his mark on all he accomplished.