GSA Homegrown: Celebrating African Architectural Talent
Homegrown is a social media and print campaign that celebrates the African talent in our GSA-Boogertman + Partners International Lecture Series. The series is listed alphabetically and draws conceptually on the idea of the periodic table. Each description has a link to the introductions that we've made over the years, an interesting and perhaps unknown fact about the speaker and the date of their lecture. All Africans, including South Africans and Africans-in-the-Diaspora, are included. At our last count, we've had 31 African speakers out of a total of 47, which we believe is something worth celebrating.
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.