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Build Africa

If the Far East seems to be the focal point of the contemporary architectural development, the future is unquestionably in Africa. Is this continent already in the line of vision? That is the idea which seem to express the Louisiana Museum of Modern Art in Copenhagen where they present up to the end of october, “Africa: Architecture, Culture and Identity” and arc en rêve in Bordeaux which exhibits sixteen projects of the competition Young Architects in Africa (up to the end of november). During the 2015 springtime, the Vitra Design Museum in Weil-am-Rhein casted light on the experimental architecture proposed by numerous sub-saharian countries after their independence in the sixties, as a way to expresss their national identity.
Not the least of contradictions, this architecture was often imported from foreign countries, sometimes from former colonial powers. Again at the beginning of the year: “Africa: Big Change / Big Chance” presented in Brussels was focused on the description of the production and the architectural and urbanistic reflection in a transformation policy which is now taking place in Africa.

The demographic explosion and the galoping city planning have contributed to this situation. The challenges imply to take account and to control many parameters in relation with the urbanistic pressure and the population. The changing potential is personified by those who shape the future by proposing a new approach to modernity. Among one of the first native architecture offices, there are the Nigerian office Adeyemi (its Makoko district floating school in Lagos was on many front pages) or the South African offices Makeka and MMA. One was renowned by the transformation of imposing buildings of the apartheid period, such as the Cape Town Railway Station for the 2010 World Cup. The other one, one of the first offices belonging to South African black people after the end of apartheid, has initiated new ways and worked on important institutional projects. Whilst the Burkinabé Diébédo Francis Kéré, very publicized and present in many exhibitions and seminars, counts on using his European training -he studied in Berlin- and traditional African methods, as well as his innovative use of vernacular materials to promote an architecture integrating ethics and tradition. This more sensitive approach combining local solutions with the most appropriate occidental ideas is the one revealing today the new face of Africa.

The Archi-Europe team

Portrait of the month

1 David Adjaye

2 Museum of Contemporary Art, Denver

3 School of Management Skolkovo, Moscou

4 Idea store Whitechapel, London

5 National Museum of African American History and Culture, Washington D.C. (under construction)

6 Alara Concept Store, Lagos, Nigeria

7 National Museum of Slavery and Freedom, Cape Coast, Ghana (under construction)

8 Sugar Hill, New York

9 Eugène Gasana Jr Foundation Paediatric Cancer Centre, Kigali, Rwanda (under construction

10 Hallmark House, Johannesburg (under construction)

11 Office campus, Kampala, Uganda (under construction)

David Adjaye

Adjaye Associates, London, New York, Berlin & Accra

With noteworthy projects, from London to Lagos and from Moscow to Washington, the awards, the exhibitions and the publications about him, David Adjaye has entered into the closed circle of the most famous international architects.

The British David Adjaye has become one of the major international actors in architecture with more than 50 projects achieved throughout the world. His complex work is presently highlighted on the occasion of the biennial of architecture in Chicago. Taking place in the Art Institute of Chicago museum, after having obtained an extensive press coverage at the Haus der Kunst in Munich, the exhibition “Making place: The architecture of David Adjaye” presents his achievements. Buildings often are displaying tactile materials with changing colours depending on the light, with different forms each showing a capacity to challenge the conventional typologies and generate a dynamic cultural message.
Born in Tanzania to Ghanaian parents, David Adjaye (1966) was brought up in Africa and in the Middle East - his father is a diplomat – before establishing himself in the UK. He studied architecture in London where he graduated in 1993. After short associations with David Chipperfield (London) and Eduardo Souto de Moura (Porto), he creates with William Russell in 1994 the office Adjaye & Russell to which succeeded Adjaye Associates, a multicultural team known for its curiosity and research-based methodology. Then followed many prestigious commissions: the Nobel Peace Centre in Oslo (2005), the Idea Store Whitechapel library in London, pioneer project of a new approach for information services (2005), the teaching areas of the Stephen Lawrence Centre (2007), the Rivington Place exhibition hall (2007), the Bernie Grant centre for performing arts (2007) and the big project for the Moscow School of Management Skolkovo (2010).

Rather than excelling in a precise style, these projects take account of the communities’ concerns and the local conditions by a good historical understanding of the context as well as a global approach to modernity. They weave their identity in the rich multiculturalism. For David Adjaye, the architecture must be “emotionally relevant”. It can’t be autonomous without connections to the site and the people, their life and their history.
His vision is one that promotes multiple interpretations of urban development by expressing the sense of the city as a constantly evolving organism. His liking for contemporary art, African art and music has brought him the sensitivity and the vision of an artist. Adjaye Associates established its early reputation with a series of private houses for artists. And this dialogue continues with recent public buildings, pavilions and exhibitions. « I want to collaborate with artists that see space and structure as integral to their work. » However sustainability is in the heart of all the projects. Experiences with cheap recycled materials and concerns for the local climate enable to obtain an optimal environment. As an example the Moscow School of Management Skolkovo, largely dictated by the necessity to deal with an extreme winter.

One of his concerns is to go against conventional ideas and rethink the project in relation to the site or the social context. This is the spirit of his recent important projects. The new Smithsonian National Museum for African American History and Culture is seen as a direct reference to Africa with its distinctive shape, a three level crown with walls leaning outwards, using a form similar to those created by Yoruba crafts. The glazed façade is clad in bronze to filtrate the light, reminding the “metal working, one of the first professions adopted by the freed slaves”. Whilst awaiting its completion, one can see the residential building established on Sugar Hill, historical district of Harlem in New York, where he expresses the social dimension of his architecture. David Adjaye has indeed created a residential complex for low-income inhabitants. Working with a tight budget, but searching for quality, the concept challenges the traditional typology. In the building, you can find a museum, a nursery school, and community facilities to fight against poverty and revitalize the area.
It is a charcoal grey concrete citadel conceived to shine with the sunlight, with a cantilever and small windows (for budgetary reasons). The material’s austerity is lightened by a pattern of engraved roses inspired by the old neighbouring buildings.

Adjaye Associates now has 4 offices, in London, New York, Berlin and Accra with projects throughout the world. In a general way, so many projects for Africa get stuck at the first hurdle or are blocked in the architect’s drawers. It is not the case with David Adjaye. "I am attracted to important projects to the African diaspora because I am interested." For this reason, he created important landmarks on the whole continent. Among them, the Sylvia Bongo Ondimba Foundation in Libreville (Gabon) with a completely open façade enabling interaction with the public, the Alara shop in Lagos with a façade inspired by the West African textile design, or also the headquarters of the World Bank’s International Finance Corporation in Dakar, the slave museum in Accra (Ghana) and a master plan in Kampala (Uganda). That is where he designed an office campus to welcome thousands of employees for the charitable organisation Made in Africa Foundation. This new 65-hectare urban development is composed of 10 conical towers, placed in a ring to create a circular public square at the heart of the campus. In Kigali, on a 4-hectare site, The Pediatric Cancer Centre Foundation Eugène Gasana Jr, is inspired by the vernacular architecture of the area expressed in a contemporary language. Its form recalls the Imigongo popular art in Rwanda. The architect has favoured sustainable resources to reduce operating costs and make available a calming environment for the medical treatments. Shaded by a system of metallic screens composing triangular elements, the great straight mass also includes three generous interior courtyards with luxurious plants bringing light very deeply inside.
Furthermore, Adjaye Associates is presently transforming Hallmark House, a 1970 industrial building 66 m high situated in Johannesburg. The post-modernist 17-story structure, will now accommodate luxury apartments, hotel, shops and cultural installations, all with balconies covered with plants. This project’s objective, scheduled for completion in 2016, is to combine African aesthetic with a contemporary vision. “The transformation of Hallmark House is an opportunity to apply fresh thinking to urban communities and to create a new typology that reflects changing lifestyles and a more fluid approach to the way we inhabit cities.”

If the international community calls him an “African architect “, he believes it is not sufficient: “My origin has surely influenced my appreciation of space and I am obviously inspired by Africa which is part of my legacy, he confessed recently. But also by many other cultures in which Mies van der Rohe or Palladio are present.” With the challenge of cultural frontiers and geopolitical categories his African and British identity give him an unique perspective in the profession. David Adjaye is the only architect born in Africa working in such worldwide landscape.


1 David Adjaye
Photo Courstesy of Adjaye Associates © Ed Reeve

2 Museum of Contemporary Art, Denver (2007)
Photo Courstesy of Adjaye Associates

3 Moscow School of Management Skolkovo, Moscou (2010)
Photo Courstesy of Adjaye Associates Photo © Ed Reeve

4 Idea store Whitechapel, London (2005)

5 National Museum of African American History and Culture, Washington D.C. (under construction)
Photo © Adjaye Associates

6 Alara Concept Store, Lagos, Nigeria (2015)
Photo © Studio Hans Wilschut, Courtesy of Adjaye Associates

7 National Museum of Slavery and Freedom, Cape Coast, Ghana (under construction)
Photo © Adjaye Associates

8 Sugar Hill, New York (2012)

9 Eugène Gasana Jr Foundation Paediatric Cancer Centre, Kigali, Rwanda (under construction) Photo © Adjaye Associates

10 Hallmark House, Johannesburg (under construction)
Photo © Adjaye Associates

11 Office campus, Kampala, Uganda (under construction)
Photo © Adjaye Associates

Project of the month

photo General View © Simon Bird

photo Sikhumbuto © Graham A. Young

photo Leaders Gallery © Graham A. Young

photo Moshate © Graham A. Young

photo Hapo Museum © Simon Bird

Freedom Park
GAPP + Mashabane Rose Architects + MMA

Significant of the post apartheid architecture, even if it is not so recent, this project is of great importance to South Africa.

Situated in Salvokop, in the municipality of Tshawane (Pretoria), Freedom Park’s vision is to become a site of Remembrance where South Africa honours those who sacrificed their life for the fight for freedom. Its mission is to supply to the visitors ways to think over the past and the present, in order to better build the future. That is why the infrastructures put you in an atmosphere full of history, culture and spirituality. Just south of the city, the 52-hectare site integrates a natural quartz ridge of significant ecological value. It is also an excellent strategic location. This project, proposed by three Johannesburg architect teams, aims to integrate the built and sculptural elements with the natural environment, in order to create an unique relation between the park, the landscape and the hill’s shape.
The first phase is focused on the “Memory Garden” development, a quiet space for thinking and praying, which leads the visitors to the memorial at the top of the hill. Inspired by the garden of a traditional healer in Kuruman, (Cape Province), its concept has changed by creating big volumes. The 697 meter long “Name Wall”, where 50 000 names are engraved among those of the victims of passed conflicts, the sanctuary, the memorial (Sikhumbuto), the dignitaries welcome centre (Moshate), the leaders gallery dedicated to the continental and international leaders for their contribution to freedom are all remembrance sites linked by a spiral lane. The most visible element from far is the assembling of steel reeds sometimes 30 m high. As per the African spirituality, the reed connects the earth to the ancestors and means the emergence of a new life. Completed in 2012, the Hapo Museum gets its name from the word Khoi meaning “dream” and tells the history of Africa and South Africa. Its interior spaces are designed as a cave with natural light to dramatize the large volumes and the buildings’ shapes. Time passing, its copper envelope will oxidize to merge with the natural landscape.

photo Hapo Museum © Simon Bird

Product of the month

Ahmed Hatab

Mark Halbmeijer

Max Rijken

Bruynzeel storage systems - Shaping The Office

Earlier this year, Bruynzeel Storage Systems staged an international competition Shaping The Office to design the office storage system of the future. Bruynzeel received over 80 entries from around the world, from which nine were chosen to receive awards.

On Friday 3 July Roland van der Velden, Manager Innovation and Development at Bruynzeel Storage Systems, presented the prizes for the top three designs submitted to the competition at an official ceremony in Panningen.

The top three submissions were selected by Timothy Jacob Jensen, renowned industrial designer and honorary member of the competition jury. He praised the three winning entries for their ability to combine visionary thinking with practical attention to detail.

The winning young designers – two Dutch and one Moroccan – have been rewarded with a seven days workshop with Timothy Jacob Jensen in his Shanghai studio for developing their ideas further. The final concept from the three entries will be launched as a signature line by Bruynzeel.

Winners of Shaping The Office

Ahmed Hatab
Winner in Design category Cubik’s Box
School : ENSA Nancy
Skill Level: Young Professional / Student

Mark Halbmeijer
Winner in Functionality category Cloud Cabinet
Company : APTO,
Title: Owner
Skill Level: Young Professional / Student

Max Rijken
Winner in Design category Workscape.
School : TU Delft – Industrial Design Engineering,
Title: Currently MSc Design for Interaction
Skill Level: Young Professional / Student

More information: Shapingtheoffice

Events in the spotlight

SeSa Build - Building and Engineering a Safer World - February 25 - 27 2016 Istanbul

The extended concept for SeSa Build comprises a wide range of aspects across the field of earthquake-resistant building construction and civil engineering, including for example security and IT solutions. Emphasis is placed on quality, sustainability, design, long-term solutions, environmental technology and energy efficiency.

The aim of the new concept for the fair is to serve the needs of the young and growing Turkish middle classes for a safer living environment. With a clear regional focus SeSa Build provides the best framework for one-to-one dialog between decision-makers, customers, partners and other interested parties from the sector. With The cooperation agreement between Messe München International, the owner and organizer of SeSa Build, and the Building Information Centre, YEM, represents another cornerstone in the development strategy of SeSa Build. Through the cooperation with YEM, SeSa Build is aiming to strengthen its position in the key Turkish market and to attract exhibitors and visitors from the region.

Turkey is well known as a top destination for its growing international trade fair business. As a meeting point and a major hub between Europe and Asia with a modern fast-growing economy and many business opportunities is it the best place to establish a show like SeSa Build. With the competence of the BAU Munich and with its accompanying high-class conference program, its geographical advantage and easy visa procedures, is SeSa Build ready to welcome professionals from all over the world.

For more information about Sesa Build:

Competitions in the spotlight

Archi-World® Academy 2015 - 2017 - III edition

After the great success of the first two editions 2011/1013 and 2013/2015 with the active participation of 24 world renowned architects as jury members, we are now launching Archi-World® Academy Awards 3.

We have the pleasure to present to you the jury members of the 2015 - 2017 edition: Sergey Romanov, Rudy Ricciotti, JKMM Architects, COOP HIMMELB(L)AU, Poponcini & Lootens, Labics, Guz Architects, SBA Architects, Grafton Architects, CHIASMUS, Ercan Çoban Architects, Emilio Ambasz and Associates

This third edition of the Archi-World Academy Awards will again involve students in architecture and architecture schools from all over the world and give to 12 winning students a fantastic opportunity to win a prestigious traineeship in top architecture practices which will definetely boost their carreer !

Challenge us with your best projects in a new topic "Responsible Future Architecture".

Registration is open:

More information:

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Third edition of Pool Vision 2016

Archi-Europe, together with Piscine Global, the largest and most important international professional exhibition for the swimming pool and spa sector, has launched the 3rd edition of Pool Vision 2016, the worldwide international competition rewarding the best pool projects in several categories coming from all parts of the world.

All information concerning submission criteria, categories, regulation and deadline is available on:

How to (…) things that don’t exist – an exhibition developed out of the 31st São Paulo Biennial
(2/10/2015 – 17/01/2016) - Porto Fundação Serralves (PT)
A good home for everyone
(3/10/2015 – 17/01/2016) - Stockholm (SE) Moderna Museet
Aga Khan Awards 2015 Award for Architecture
(16/10/2015 – 17/01/2016) – Brussels (B)
Groundbreaking Construction – 100 Danish Breakthroughs that Changed the World
(9/10 – 18/12/2015) – Copenhagen (DK)
Don’t Touch
(27/11/2015 – 17/04/2016) - Zürich Museum Bellerive (CH)
>> read more

Deadline: 16/01/2016

eVolo 2016 Skyscraper Competition
Deadline: 26/01/2016

Paris Sky Pool
Deadline: 19/11/2015

>> read more

A Genealogy of Modern Architecture
Kenneth Frampton

Lars Müller Publishers
304 pages
ISBN 978-3-03778-369-6

>> Read more

Robert Mallet-Stevens
Agir pour l’architecture moderne
Richard Klein

Editions du Patrimoine
€ 25.00
176 pages
ISBN : 9782757702895

>> Read more

Six Canonical Projects by Rem Koolhaas
Essays on the History of Ideas
Ingrid Böck

Jovis Publisher
€ 29.80
368 pages
ISBN 978-3-86859-219-1

>> Read more

© 2015 Archi-Europe
Responsible Editor: Jacques Allard
Chief Editor: Marie-Claire Regniers

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