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Architects must make Africa visible to the world again

Architects must make Africa visible to the world again

“We understand this in artists, that when an artist moves to a different context they think differently, or as they engage with different things they explore differently but in architecture we do not have this” said Sir David Adjaye at a lecture earlier this month at the University of Johannesburg.

For Namibian architecture students, Elao Martin, Ndeshipanda Iita and Natache Sylvia Iilonga, it was an unbelievable experience to hear an iconic African architect talk. The three, together with hundreds of other architecture students from across South Africa, attended the guest lecture by the legendary African architect. Earlier this year, Sir David was included in Time magazine 100 Most Influential People for 2017.

Sir David’s lecture formed part of the Graduate School of Architecture at the University of Johannesburg’s regular GSA Boogertman & Partners international lecture series. His specific focus was on the need for African architecture to make Africa visible to the world. The lecture was moderated by Professor Lesley Lokko, the school’s head. “The Graduate School of Architecture [at UJ] is the only African School of Architecture striving to redefine the African architect in the predominantly Western-based architectural discourse, employing the Unit System Africa teaching approach” she stated.

David Adjaye explored a return to the renaissance in African architecture in an engaging heart to heart with Prof Lokko. He argues for the need to radically explore architecture always from the new rather than projecting the conventional.

Sir David explored the architect’s work through a lens of integrated approach that focused on his earlier days and current commissions, life, trials and the coming of age of his own style.

“Ultimately, the continent of Africa needs visibility, it’s been a continent that has been too invisible for too long. It has incredible creativity, it has incredible opportunities. It is not about the technology. Architecture is about the mind, and not the tools you are using. Yes we need the tools but ultimately the best architecture comes from the mind” he told his enraptured audience.

After the lecture, he engaged the students on an informal, personal level, sharing anecdotes and inspiring the young budding architects to take Africa to a higher niveau in design and construction.

Pictured with the inspiring Sir David Adjaye (centre) are Namibian architecture students Elao Martin (left) and Ndeshipanda Iita (second from left). Front left is Angolan student, Euridice Paiva and next to Sir David is Saddam Biwa (right back), Ilsa Archilles (right) and another Namibian, Natache Sylvia Iilonga with eyes wide shut. All students are post-graduate architecture hopefuls.



About The Author

Mandisa Rasmeni

Mandisa Rasmeni has worked as reporter at the Economist for the past five years, first on the entertainment beat but now focussing more on community, social and health reporting. She is a born writer and is working on her degree in Journalism at the Namibia University of Science and Technology (NUST). She believes education is the greatest equalizer. She is the epitome of perseverance, having started as the newspaper's receptionist in 2013.