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The Pulse of Africa: the London Design Museum Feels the Beat

April 5, 2010

David Adjaye's Urban Africa project

In case you are looking for an excuse to find yourself in London, look no further than Urban Africa, David Adjaye’s current exhibit at the Design Museum.

Born in Dar-Es-Salam, Tanzania, David Adjaye has already risen to become one of the most important architects of his generation- at the impressively young age of 43.  Adjaye moved to London in 1979, where he graduated from the Royal College of Art in 1993 . His meteoric rise began that year, when he won the RIBA First Prize Bronze Medal.  Seven years later he established his own practice,  Adjaye Associates in 2000 and was nominated for a Stirling Prize in 2006 for his Whitechapel Idea Store. Most recently, he was awarded the prestigious commission to design the new National Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington DC which will open in 2015.

With Urban Africa, Adjaye has stepped out of his regular line of work to photograph and document key cities in Africa as part of an ongoing project to study new patterns of urbanism.  The resulting collection of photographs (on view at London’s Design Museum through September 5) is a personal quest through the eyes of an architect to address the scant knowledge of the built environment of the African continent.

The exhibit succeeds in presenting Africa through a different lens that documents the nature of urban life in a developing country and places Africa in a global context. Assembled for the first time, these photographs reveal the cities themselves and examine the buildings and places which have a special resonance with Adjaye’s preoccupations as an architect. The photographs are presented as a series of vivid large-scale projections, accompanied by African beats specially composed for the exhibition by Peter Adjaye.

Think of it as a different way to see the belly of an architect.

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