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.
HOMEGROWN # 07 COUNTERSPACE
Named in Domus’ ‘Top 100 Architectural Firms of the Year’ in 2019, this three-woman practice who combine teaching, research and practice are an emerging African force to watch! Sumayya Vally (Unit 12 Leader) and Sarah de Villiers (Unit 14 Tutor) have been teaching at the GSA since its inception in 2015 and we cannot imagine the school without them! Their Thursday, 25 July 2019 lecture was a masterclass in poise, depth and performance. Want to know a few interesting facts? They had to introduce themselves! Counterspace had to introduce themselves! Sumi’s favourite colour is gold. Sarah’s favourite colour is black. Sarah speaks Italian as well as English and Architecture They do everything at the GSA – and we mean ‘everything.’ They are fast becoming the GSA’s most traveled tutors, from Hong Kong to Sydney to the US to New Zealand.
HOMEGROWN # 06 COHEN & GARSON
Nina Cohen and Fiona Garson have been in partnership for 15 years, producing a stream of ground-breaking and innovative buildings. They received the Visi Designer of the Year Award in 2012 for the the Wits Art Museum, a much-loved and much-visited local landmark. They also received an Award of Excellence from Gifa and a National Award of Merit from SAIA for WAM. They lectured on Thursday, 30 August 2018 and brought the house down. Want to know a few interesting facts? Both Nina and Fiona graduated from Wits. Fiona founded her own practice, Fiona Garson Architects in 1993. Nina and Fiona joined forces in 2002, establishing Cohen and Garson Architects. They’ve established themselves as one of the leading practices in South Africa, known particularly for their educational buildings Their Wits Art Museum, WAM, is one of the best-loved buildings in Braamfontein.
HOMEGROWN # 05 TOM CHAPMAN
Thomas Chapman founded Local Studio in 2011 with the intention of using design to create social and economic development for people of all classes. In just under a decade, they are one of the leading firms dealing with public space and social infrastructure in South Africa. His Thursday, 9 March 2017 lecture was packed, and this was before he’d even started teaching at the GSA! Want to know a few interesting facts? Tom has a Master’s degree in Urban Design from Wits Local Studio started in 2012 and now has 14 full-time staff members. Their first book, Hustles, was published in 2019!