HOMEGROWN # 31 Unit 15X
A veritable trio of African unity, this three-man team who hail from Zambia, South Africa and Ghana are the teaching force behind Unit 15X, now in its fourth year at the GSA. Dr Finzi Saidi is a landscape architect and Senior Lecturer at the GSA; Absalom Makhubu is an urbanist who has been at UJ for six years and Dickson Adu-Agyei was a star student in Unit 15X last year and is now finding his (firm) feet as a junior lecturer. He’s also just had a baby girl, which means he’s currently quite sleep-deprived. They’ve been all over the continent with their students and their talk on Thursday 8 August 2019 included highlights from a discotheque in Kampala and a football pitch in Dar-es-Salaam (oh, and a beach in Zanzibar, too). Want to know a few interesting facts? Jabu has the most amazing collection of jewelry. Like, amazing. He’s also a big fan of the ‘short suit’. As in matching shirt ‘n’ shorts. Finzi rivals Madiba for his colourful shirts. Dickson’s just had a baby girl. Oh, did we just say that? Finzi’s passionate about football and landscape. He used to be a hockey-dad. Dickson has his own practice and would like to do a PhD. Finzi speaks Afrikaans.
HOMEGROWN # 30 Huda Tayob
Dr Huda Tayob joined the GSA after a prolonged period of courting her to come ‘back home.’ Boy, are we glad she did! She’s been with us for six short months and she’s totally transformed the History & Theory programme, putting on an amazing colloquium that spilled out into the streets of Braamfontein and publishing a supplement to FOLIO, Forgetting Architecture, out now on ISSUU. All in six months. She’s also won a major award, presented at numerous conferences overseas, gone on a research trip to Ghana and still found time to give a great talk on Thursday 29 August 2019! Want to know a few interesting facts? She studied at UCT and then went on to do a PhD at the Bartlett. She comes from a long line of academics. She’s a dab hand behind a camera but not so keen being in front of one! She’s part of a new generation of African historians and theoreticians who are rewriting history, literally. She’s got a smile that can light up a room.
HOMEGROWN # 29 Mitchell Squire
Mitchell Squire resists easy – or even any – classification. He’s an artist, architect, activist, African, anarchist, author . . . all of the above and more. He’s been coming back to the GSA every year since 2014, making him our longest-serving (and suffering . . . it’s a 32-hour journey, door-to-door) visitor. He’s done it all – lectures, performances, reviews, examinations, seminars, masterclasses and workshops. It’s fair to say we just love his unique blend of disciplinary passions and no one who was at his performance at Forgetting Architecture will ever forget Mitchell. It’s not possible to single out any one lecture or appearance at the GSA as being more inspiring than the rest. We salute you, Professor Squire. We cannot imagine the canon without you. Want to know a few interesting facts? He was once a world-class bodybuilder. He is fearless, utterly fearless. His work pushes against the edges of every known epistemological boundary. Questioning, for him, is everything. He was born in Mississippi. He lives in Iowa.
HOMEGROWN # 28 Rahel Shawl
Mention the words ‘Ethiopia’ and ‘architecture’ in the same breath and you’ll get one question: ‘do you know Rahel?’ Such is her standing in Addis Ababa that, like Madonna, she’s a first-name only phenomenon. A former Loeb Fellow at Harvard, she studied architecture in Addis Ababa, founding her own practice nearly twenty years ago. She worked on the world-renowned Dutch Embassy and South African Embassy in Addis, cementing life-long friendships with Bjarne and Dirk and Mphethi as a result. She’s created a second office-within-her-office, specifically to mentor young female architects who flock to her for her combination of humour, compassion and drive. On Thursday 4 October 2018, she wowed us with the same. Want to know a few interesting facts? She’s the only member of her family who didn’t leave Ethiopia during the dictatorship She’s married to an architect (but ‘we don’t practice together’, she says, ‘thank goodness.’) She won the Aga Khan Award for Architecture in 2007. She was named a ‘Phenomenal Ethiopian Woman Role Model’ in 2014. She’s the person you want to sit next to at an awards dinner.
HOMEGROWN # 27 Peter Rich
Our second-to-last speaker in the series, Peter Rich, is a multiple award-winning Johannesburg-based architect, who was celebrated last year at the 18th annual Venice Biennale. He showcased 15 drawings which drew audiences from around the world, including drawings of his world-famous Mapungubwe Centre, which was awarded the World Building of the Year prize at the World Architecture Festival in Barcelona in 2009. Alongside Jo Noero, he’s an Honorary Fellow of the American Institute of Architects and his work has been exhibited all over the world. On Thursday 3 October 2019, he blew everyone away with his words, work and his unique sense of wonder at everything this continent has to offer. Want to know a few interesting facts? He lives in a brightly coloured Ndebele-inspired home in Parktown. He spends a lot of time traveling and in Axum, Ethiopia. He’s been a professor, tutor and lecturer for almost as long as he’s been practicing. He has a wicked sense of humour. His son is also an architect.
HOMEGROWN # 26 Henning Rasmuss
It’s debatable whether anyone who saw Henning’s lecture on Thursday 6 September 2018 will ever forget it. If you don’t believe us, watch it at the link below. As Alice (she of Through the Looking Glass fame) said, ‘No, no! The adventures first, explanations take such a dreadful long time!’ We followed Henning on the architectural adventures of his own life, starting from his childhood in Auckland Park, all the way to Hong Kong, London and back again, stopping off in Angola, DRC, Brazil and – we think – Equatorial Guinea along the way. Oh, and then there was AfrikaBurn. Say no more. Want to know a few interesting facts?