Africa is a diverse continent with different contexts that go beyond the stereotypes imagined and disseminated by those who do not know it and that has artists who stand out in all the arts and, in this case, in architecture. A new generation of architects that stands as a benchmark for modernity and excellence, and stands out as a world-class name, the Tanzanian-born architect of Ghanaian descent, who lives in the UK, David Adjaye.
David Adjaye earned his bachelor’s degree from London South Bank University, and later a master’s degree in 1993 from the prestigious Royal College of Art. That same year he was awarded the RIBA bronze medal, an award reserved for students with his recently completed studies.
After a while working in various architectural studies, in 1994 Adjaye and William Russell established on their own a studio called Adjaye & Russell, based in North London, which worked and performed various designs and works until 2000. At the time David Adjaye created his own design and architecture studio, Adjaye Associates, with offices in Accra, Berlin, London and New York and whose impact on contemporary architecture is unquestionable.
In 2006 Adjaye was nominated for the Stirling Award for his Store Whitechapel project in the capital of London. He also collaborated with artist Olafur Eliasson designing the lighting called Your black horizon at the Venice Biennale the previous year. And he shared with Chris Ofili the design of the Upper Room’s environment creation, which is now owned by Tate Britain.
His most outstanding and well-known works, signed alone, are spectacular and universally recognized: The Denver Museum of Contemporary Art, the Nobel Peace Center in Oslo and the Moscow School of Administration Skolkovo. In 2009, his ideas were selected in a select contest that invited the best architects to design the National Museum of African American History and Culture, which is part of the prestigious Smithsonian Institute, in Washington, DC, in United States.
He has also worked on the design of the Washington furniture collection for Knoll, the Alara concept store in Lagos, the Double Zero seating range with Art Deco influence for Moroso, the commercial and cultural complex of the Aishti Foundation in Beirut, the mixed social housing scheme, Sugar Hill Museums and Early Childhood Education in New York, One Berkeley in London, a 600 million scheme in the Piccadilly area, the Sclera Pavilion, UK Holocaust Memorial and Learning Center or the tower residential 130 William in Manhattan in collaboration with the Hill West studio among others.
In the last ten years, and to this day, he has carried out important projects, such as the Accra Cathedral in Ghana, the recently inaugurated Ruby City Art Center in San Antonio, Texas, commissioned by the Linda Pace Foundation and which It has been designed and managed in its construction by Adjave Associates in collaboration with Alamo Architects or The Webster, the new clothing chain store owned by Lauren Hériard, located in the Beverly Center in Los Angeles and which marked its debut in California.
In 2016 he was awarded the Eugene McDermott Award in the Arts by the prestigious Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and in 2017 named Knight of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II of England for his services to architecture. The Central Chancellery of the Orders of Cavalry in the Palace of St. James, who administers the Knight Batchelor Awards, described Adjaye as “one of the leading architects of his generation and a global ambassador of UK culture.” And that same year, he was also named one of Time magazine’s 100 most influential people.
David Adjaye in addition to an extraordinary architect is a magnificent photographer, for eleven years he photographed 53 cities from Cape Town to Morocco. In clear opposition to the traditional narrative that subdivides the territory into zones of influence of the ancient colonial metropolises (French-speaking Africa, Anglophone, Lusophone, etc.) so common in similar European projects, the architect became researcher found in the geographical accidents and in the effects of meteorology a splendid scenario to immortalize and stay in the retina of the spectators, making exhibitions on different places and urban aspects of Africa, of whose culture is one of the main representatives . He also stands out for his work as an advisor to various international institutions and professor at prestigious universities such as Princeton, Harvard and Penn.
Today, David Adjaye is one of the most prominent and future architects among African artists around the globe and is considered one of the most important values of world architecture.