Al Stratford 28th Sophia Gray
Memorial Lecture Laureate

After many months of preparation we are incredibly proud to announce Al Stratford, our founder, as the 28th laureate of the prestigious Sophia Gray Memorial Lecture. This event is hosted by the Department of Architecture at the University of the Free State annually, at the end of August. A major highlight of the architectural profession’s calendar, the Sophia Gray Memorial Lecture brings together some of the most distinguished Architects in South Africa for an evening of celebration.

Al will be sharing a presentation on “Reductive Innovation In Architecture”, and an extensive exhibition of his life’s work. This is a major achievement for Al as he is the first nominee from the Eastern Cape and specifically East London. Like Sophia Gray, Al Stratford had no formal education in Architecture but qualified as an architect through recognition by his peers, prior learning and writing a Special Qualifying Exam through SACAP in 2001. We as the Wintec® Innovation family are honoured to a part of this special event.

“Sophia Gray (1814 –1871) was the first woman to practise architecture in South Africa and one of the earliest in the world. Married to Robert Gray, inaugural Anglican Bishop of Cape Town, Sophy devoted herself to the diocese, conducting the finances, organising and recording synods, and maintaining the chronicles. By cart or wagon or on horseback, she accompanied her husband on all but two of his visitations throughout the country, sketching wherever they went. her highly accomplished drawings and insightful diaries are held in the William Cullen Library of the University of the Witwatersrand.

Sophia was active in architecture over a period of twenty-two years, from 1848 – 1870, during which time she built fifty-two churches throughout South Africa, mostly Gothic revival, and she is deemed to have been the first architect, male or female, to have been professionally active in the Free State however, the remarkable thing is that Sophy had no training at all – she was self-taught, having learnt architecture only from observation as a tribute to her achievements, the University of the Free State instituted the annual Sophia Gray Memorial.”

Dr. Jaco Wasserfall (Architect, Windhoek. 2010 Laureate)

28th Sophia Gray Memorial Lecture2