Showing posts with label David Adjaye. Show all posts
Showing posts with label David Adjaye. Show all posts

Monday, September 3, 2012

The Rural Modern Library

The new generation of local Washington, DC public libraries coming on line have been referred to as "striking ... buildings that sit like aliens in their neighborhoods, thoroughly unlike their surroundings—and intentionally so." Two of the libraries--Hillcrest and Washington Highlands library/Bellevue--were designed by British architect David Adjaye -- who's of Ghanaian descent and was born in Tanzania.

In the video clip below Adjaye walks a young resident of Bellevue, a community that has seen decline since the the mass exodus of the middle class in the 1980s, through his design of the library. He talks about the power a library--one of the only public funded spaces dedicated to the dissemination of knowledge, hope and possibility--has in affecting its local community.


Already there are signs of a "library effect" in the spate of new development projects coming to the area. Lydia DePillis writes in Washington City Paper:
... local ANC commissioner and Friends of the Bellevue Library president Dionne Brown says she's fielded calls from developers excited about the new building, which is totally unlike anything the neighborhood has ever seen. "It created a signal," Brown says. "It created a ripple in the local economy."
She argues:
...the kind of architecture that reinvests neighborhoods with a sense of pride and erases the mistakes of the past is important, even if that means not every neighborhood gets something new. If you start looking at statistics already being collected on the new buildings—the rate of new card registrations in the old libraries vs. the new ones, or overall number of items checked out—you get much better bang for your buck.
Burkinabe architect Francis Kere has shown that rural African communities can also make use of other kinds of scale modern architecture can bring to, for example, a rural school building - as in his now famous design of a primary school building at Gando. Below, Hunter College's Kate Parry reaffirms how the library allows the notions of public space, community wellbeing, community pride and empowerment to all overlap. Using the example of a small village library she's been working with in Southern Uganda, she notes that libraries in rural African communities are not only centers for disseminating literacy but they also double as a hub for other community building activity.


FAVL's thoughts on building rural libraries in Africa - here.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Africa: The Africa Centre - Past and Future

On Friday the Guardian postd a pic of architect David Adjaye's vision for how the Africa Centre's Grade-II listed building in Covent Garden, London, might be restored.

Authors Ngugi wa Thiong'o & Abdilatif Abdalla back in May 2011 share fond memories about the center - here.

H/T: African Art in London

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Africa: Architecture when Slum Growth = Urban Change

What Tanzanian born British architect David Adjaye says below about the real inspiration of architecture once again being a rapidly changing urbanism recalls this post on African slums, which are said to be growing at a rate of 4.53%, whilst the overall growth rate of the African cities themselves was at 4.58% in the same period. In other words, "almost all of the growth that will unfold in African cities take the form of slum growth."

Urban geographers have already started talking about the need to stop looking at slums as evidence of the failure of government policies or modernization in Africa, but to begin "theorizing African urbanism from the perspective that the innately complex and diverse "lifeworlds" of these slums already contain efficiencies and problem-solving designs, that due to nature of slums, remain unplugged from the urban grid.

Another way to put it might be, upon realizing the untapped wealth and potential of slums, maybe architecture, in this context, now becomes how to come up with design solutions that finds ways to harness the energies of slums and plug that energy back into the modern order and capitalist engine of the cities in which they are in. And - ka-ching! The end result being, because of architecture's reorientation and solutions, the brokers of the engines that run these cities (government and private sectors) will stop looking at slums just as social welfare, amenities, and food for bulldozers. Rather, if slums can be plugged back to the grid, they will be incentivized to go into them as they are and make them work for African cities. At least so the theory goes.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Tanzania/Ghana/United Kingdom: The Achitecture of David Adjaye

Freelon Adjaye Bond/SmithGroup concepts for the National Museum of African-American History in Washington, D.C. The bronze, layered corona atop a stone base, according to David Adjaye, would be the defining element of the structure, which could be the last major building added to the expanse between the U.S. Capitol and Washington Monument.... The crown concept, which would allow natural light to flow into the structure through bronze screens, was inspired by images from African and American history, Adjaye said, "this idea of uplifted praise sort of imagery." It evokes traditional headdresses worn by African-American women [he might be referring to this], as well as the colonial crown from Africa and the idea "that a hat-wearing person is a free person...who doesn't have to carry a load but could wear a hat."

In Sunday's WaPo, Philip Kennicott feels his way around the contours of the mind of 43-year-old Ghanaian/Tanzanian architect David Adjaye, who has been commissioned to design two new libraries in the District of Columbia and the National Museum of African American History and Culture which will be located on the mall. Slide show here.

In this Q&A with New York magazine back in 2007, he answers questions about Africa and as a designer steeped in modernity how he feels about his African heritage:
You just got back from Africa. What are you working on there? I embarked about five years ago on a study, collecting an archive of photographs of every single one of the 53 capitals of the continent. Most people know about five cities in Africa. It is easy to find images of South America right through to Australia, but Africa, apart from images of poverty or war, has very little data about the lived experiences of people there now.
Are there lessons from African cities that Western architects should be more aware of? What I am interested in is how they have a very strong public life: the markets, the way people use the spaces in front of their homes, the way life is lived as networks. The house is just a unit you sleep in. Even in Muslim countries that are very extreme, it still plays out. That is something we have lost in the West.
It is interesting you’ve been so explicit about using your African heritage, since, as you said, architecture is such a white-male-dominated profession. There has been a tendency to shy away from who you are, and I don’t want to deny who I am. If a Japanese architect talks about Shintoism, everyone goes, “Wow.” If an African architect talks about an African village, it is somehow weird in the Western context. I find that hilarious. What’s the difference?
Below, he talks about his process at the Salk Institute lecture series:


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