A young, all-female Joburg architecture group just landed one of the world's most prestigious commissions

Business Insider SA
The Serpentine Galleries concept from Counterspace
The winning Counterspace proposal. (Serpentine Galleries)
  • Three Johannesburg architects have just become the youngest ever to be commissioned to build the Serpentine pavilion in Kensington Gardens, London.
  • The annual temporary structure has in the past been among the most visited architectural exhibitions in the world, and has launched careers.
  • South Africans Sumayya Vally, Sarah de Villiers, and Amina Kaskar, of the firm Counterspace, will be creating "a place for debate and new ideas", Serpentine Galleries says.
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Three architects from Johannesburg will this year become the youngest ever to build the Serpentine pavilion, a temporary structure built in Kensington Gardens in London every year, the organisers announced this week.

The 20-year-old Serpentine is one of the most prestigious commissions in the architecture world. The 2016 edition was the most visited architectural exhibition of the year, and it has been described as "a showcase for emerging talent".

This year it will be built by Sumayya Vally, Sarah de Villiers, and Amina Kaskar of the collaborative architectural studio Counterspace, based in Johannesburg.

All three will be 30 years old in 2020.

Kaskar lectures at the University of the Witwatersrand (Wits), while Vally and De Villiers both teach at the Graduate School of Architecture at the University of Johannesburg (UJ).

Their pavilion is due to feature what is described as "moveable small parts" that will be at the centre of community events in different parts of London before being returned to the main assembly, so "folding London in to the Pavilion structure in Kensington Gardens, and extending a public programme across London."

The outreach part of the project is due to focus particularly on "migrant and other peripheral communities". More details around it are only due to be released in June.

The design has already attracted some of the debate the organisers and architects intended, being described as "a grandiose post-modern folly assembled from monumental classical ruins" which "inevitably gives it a whiff of Empire, oppression and superiority."

The pavilion is scheduled to be open from June to October.

(Compiled by Phillip de Wet)

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