HOMEGROWN # 13 Mariam Kamara
She came, she saw and on Thursday, 15 August 2019 she conquered. Her lecture was one of the most eagerly-anticipated of the series and in it, she took us right out of the context of Johannesburg into the magical and – as yet – little-known narrative of her home town, Niamey, the capital of Niger. No, not Nigeria. She’s one of the continent’s fastest-rising young stars and her appearance during Women’s Month couldn’t have been better timed. An inspiration for a whole continent and beyond. Want to know a few interesting facts? She is also a software engineer. She lives between Rhode Island and Niamey. She’s the recipient of the Rolex Protégé Award 2018 and the Prince Claus Award 2019. She’s spent the past year being mentored by Sir David Adjaye, which she describes as a ‘dream come true.’ She’s got everyone wondering what she’s going to do next . . . no pressure, in other words. She’ll rise to the challenge with ease.
HOMEGROWN # 12 Olalekan Jeyifous
We first saw his work at African Mobilities in Munich in 2017 and swore on the spot that we’d bring him to the GSA! On Thursday, 14 March 2019, he delighted, inspired and provoked his audience with his speculative visual work, which defies easy categorisation but forces and challenges us to think deeply about issues of representation, language and informality. A true one-of-a-kind and someone we’d have back any day. Any day. Want to know a few interesting facts? He was born in Nigeria and raised in Brooklyn. He has a Bachelor’s degree in Architecture from Cornell University. He’s a visual artist working with architecture, software, film and graphic design to create startling images of a future that, in his words, ‘comes slowly.’ He’s interested in getting people to re-think everything they think they know about cities like Lagos. He’s a visionary.
HOMEGROWN # 11 Stephen Hobbs
He’s been a critic, tutor, visitor, reviewer and contributor to the GSA since its inception in 2016. On Thursday, 6 September 2016, he showed us that art, architecture, urbanism, public discourse and the imagination are not only excellent bedfellows, they’re inseparable. His practice, which also defies easy description, has initiated, installed, performed and exhibited all over the world. He’s one of our sharpest critics and we’re delighted he continues to delight, torment and provoke our students with his insights and wit. Want to know a few interesting facts? He’s a visual artist with a strong interest in public art. He was one of the first artists to move into Maboneng and set up a studio. Dakar is one of his favourite cities in the world. He loves tree houses.
HOMEGROWN # 10 SAMIA HENNI
She flew in like a whirlwind, gave one of the most powerful and rousing lectures we’ve ever had and opened her own exhibition at MOAD on Thursday, 19 April 2018. She brought along copies of her recently-published book, which holds such powerful resonance for South Africans. Her presence in the series reminds us again and again, that the issues that bind us are far greater and more interesting than those that set us apart. Want to know a few interesting facts? EVERYTHING about Dr Henni is interesting. She speaks five languages fluently. Her book, The Architecture of Counterrevolution: the French Army in Northern Algeria, won the Silver FILAF Book Award She’s at home equally in Algeria, the US and Switzerland, and counts Rotterdam and London as homes-from-home. She thinks nothing of taking a four-hour bus journey from Ithaca to New York to have dinner.
HOMEGROWN # 09 Thiresh Govender
He’s the founder of UrbanWorks Architecture and Urbanism, Unit 14 Leader and keen observer of all things Johannesburg . . . in the four years since Unit 14 has been teaching at the GSA, Thiresh has skillfully managed to weave together teaching, practice, research and personal interests into a seamless whole. PLOT (affectionately referred to as the ‘GSA Annex’) is a much-loved and much-visited second home to many of the GSA’s tutors and recent graduates. He spoke to a packed house on Thursday, 27 September 2018. Want to know a few interesting facts? In his own words, he is ‘stubborn’ and ‘inspiring.’ Just like Johannesburg. He spent a year at the Bartlett and has taught at ETH. He’s fascinated by risk. He thinks facts are much stranger than fiction.
HOMEGROWN # 08 ISSA DIABATÉ
Educated at Yale, born in Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire and fluent in several languages, Issa Diabaté is – in his own words – a ‘shape shifter.’ His practice operates across multiple fields – as architects, developers, policy-makers, activists, urbanists and thinkers – and is one of the continent’s largest. His hour-long talk on Thursday, 30 May 2019 opened up new possibilities for African architects and new imaginings for ways of working in this rich and challenging context. Want to know a few interesting facts? Issa speaks five languages. He studied business and economics before training as an architect at Yale. Together with his business partner, Guillaume Koffi, they run the largest architectural practice in the country. Issa is one of only ten African designers who worked on the Överallt collection for IKEA. He was knighted in Cote d’Ivoire for his contributions to culture. He’s older than he looks. He loves to swim.