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!
Homegrown # 03 Bob van Bebber
It’s fair to say that there wouldn’t be an International Lecture Series without Bob van Bebber. His commitment to educating and inspiring a whole new generation of African architects is without parallel. In a difficult and uncertain economic climate, Bob’s determination to make sure our students and practitioners (young and not-so-young) get to see, hear and have drinks with dozens of high-profile, emerging and hidden thinkers and makers come to Johannesburg has been an incredible ‘gift’ to Johannesburg’s wider architectural culture. His talk on Thursday, 17 August 2017 was an eye-opener! Want to know a few interesting facts? Bob doesn’t smoke or drink but he swears a lot. He loved Lego as a child. Still does. He studied at Wits under Pancho Guedes and counts him as one of the reasons he became an architect. He always wanted to design a football stadium . . . and he did! He speaks Dutch as well as English and Afrikaans He comes to every ILS lecture! We adore Bob.