the women behind counterspace share their favourite african architecture
All roads led to Johannesburg for Sumayya Vally, Amina Kaskar and Sarah de Villiers, who hail from Durban, Pretoria and Joburg respectively. Their firm Counterspace specialises in urban and spatial problem-solving in architecture, installation and art, and was started as a fierce reaction to traditional practices. As three of our Next Generation stars for 2017, we asked the innovative trio to share their favourite examples of architecture in Africa.
sumayya vally1. olalekan jeyifous Olalekan Jeyifous show a searching for new form. Inspired by the conditions and uniqueness of place - while managing to transcend beyond these, too - his works are capable of projecting possible architectures. Though similar in nature, Jeyifous doesn't simply present an Africanised interpretation of the works of German painter Wolf Vostell or Korean American artist Nam June Paik. Rather, his imaginings are a true testament to the worth of speculative paper architecture. 2. kariakoo market, dar es salaam Zeitz MOCAA shows an interesting return to the early years of deconstruction, when simple interventions, such as cutting across solids, were used to defamiliarise high modernist forms such as concrete silos and other utilitarian spaces. This confrontation between cut-and-fold derived geometries and 20th-century industrial form reached its highest expression in American architect Daniel Libeskind's The Jewish Museum Berlin, and has lain dormant for a long time since.
amina kaskar1. hyatt regency hotel, joburg Hyatt Regency hotel in Rosebank, Johannesburg. Peering into its heavily recessed windows on its face-brick facade, I invent the stories that could exist behind the hundreds of flapping white curtains. I enjoy the irony of the hotel mimicking the form of Italian architect Aldo Rossi’s San Cataldo Cemetery, and it is these sorts of anecdotes that tell the story of the building. In exactly this manner, the particular narratives that people develop about a building or a structure depict a particular time in the life of a city - as well as in the life of its architecture. 2. the watershed, cape town Watershed designed by Wolff Architects, who has created an internal street within an existing shed in Cape Town's V&A Waterfront district. This street forms a pedestrian thoroughfare along the lengths of the shed, connecting several sites around the V&A Waterfront area. The building transforms the surrounding area and serves as more than just the intended business incubator, reclaiming public space and becoming a device for conversation, socialising, retail and work. I have always been attracted to industrial architecture and interesting use of colour, and the lightweight, playful nature of this structure creates an enchanting space to be in. 3. council chambers, joburg Studiomas Architects. The new addition to Johannesburg’s civic landscape is an elegant rotunda of curved glass that sits snug in its Braamfontein context. The monumental radial form with gold steel 'fins' is a necessary contrast to the Brutalist architecture of the existing council building that sits behind it. For me, the view looking towards the building from Rissik Street is the most striking, however. Driving north along this street, the building creates a bold statement and a sense of arrival to Braamfontein.
sarah de villiers1. circa gallery, joburg Circa Gallery’s fluted aluminium skin girdles one in, as it spirals upwards from its outer passage on the ground floor to the main exhibition space on the first floor. Sunlight and the muffled sounds of the street seep in, attributing to a most sublime experience for its visitors that is simultaneously apart from the craziness of the city, yet subtly connected to it. The oblong form of the gallery provides a distinguished platform for its featured artworks, a favourite hang-out spot during the city’s First Thursdays' events. It's a definite architectural anchor-point in my mind, a kind of yardstick for a version of experiential and exciting architecture, demonstrating the great extents and sophistication of 21st century South African design. 2. uganda national theatre, kampala
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