HOMEGROWN # 15 Greg Katz
He runs Unit 17 at the GSA focusing on methods and materials and his practice is intimately engaged with experimentation and prototyping, anything from new programmes for architecture to new forms of plastic recycling. On Thursday, 17 May 2018 he treated his audience to an in-depth and insightful look at his work, all the way from his early experiences with Daniel Libeskind and Zvi Hecker to his current work in his native Jozi. Want to know a few interesting facts? He’s a former model. He studied at UCT and Columbia University. He has a vegetable patch and three kids (not in that order). He also makes jewelry.
HOMEGROWN # 14 Hanif Kara
On Thursday, 10 October 2019 he closed out what has been the most amazing series of speakers. Hanif’s lecture was the most imaginative and fitting end, ever. He spoke about engineering, design, architecture, thinking inside-the-box, thinking outside-the-box, about youth and profit and self-promotion, roller coasters, stealing steel . . . we could go on and on and we still wouldn’t do it justice. He’s one-of-a-kind, an original, and the engineer everyone wants to work with and whom everyone likes. What a star. Want to know a few interesting facts? He was born in Uganda and left for the UK at the age of fourteen. In his own words, ‘I left Africa but Africa never left me.’ He is still fascinated by roller coasters. He moves fluidly between the worlds of engineering and architecture. He doesn’t see them as all that distinct. He likes the colour orange.
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.