SPACES FOR ART
Wednesday 13th February 2008
18.OO David Adjaye – Art and Architecture
Lecture introduced by Stefano Boeri and Francesco Garofalo
British School at Rome
13th February11th March
Casa dell’Architettura Rome
“Buildings are deeply emotive structures which form our psyche. People think
they’re just things they manoeuvre through. But the makeup of a person is
influenced by the nature of spaces.” David Adjaye
Following John Miller, Tony Fretton, David Chipperfield, Jamie Fobert, Caruso St
John and Future Systems, David Adjaye will conclude the series of lectures and
exhibitions dedicated to the relationship between architecture and art.
Adjaye is one of Britain’s leading contemporary architects, creating buildings that
emphasize the experience as much as the function of architecture. In his work
Adjaye combines the sensual and emotive with a conceptual approach to the
fundamental elements of the discipline. Born in Tanzania, his influences range from
West African art and architecture to contemporary art and music. His exploration
of scale, measurement, space, light and materials has led to numerous
collaborations with artists who include Olafur Eliasson and Chris Ofili.
Adjaye set up his practice in 1994 and quickly developed a reputation for the
successful refurbishment of cafes, bars and private homes including; Elektra House,
London 2001 and Dirty House, London 2002. In 2001, Adjaye Associates won the
competition to design two Idea Store libraries and lifelong learning centres in the
London Borough of Tower Hamlets. The Idea Store Chrisp Street won the RIBA 2005
Building Award, the Idea Store Whitechapel was shortlisted for the Stirling Prize in
The success of these projects led to several public commissions, among them the
Nobel Peace Center in Oslo (2005). In Autumn 2007 three major public buildings
opened in London to wide acclaim; Rivington Place, a new visual arts building for
Iniva and Autograph ABP in Shoreditch, the Stephen Lawrence Centre and the
Bernie Grant Arts Centre which gives form to the aspirations of the late MP and civil
rights leader. Adjaye’s first public commission in the United States the new home
for the Museum of Contemporary Art/Denver – opened in October 2007.
The Rome exhibition will include Horizon and the Monoform collection. Adjaye’s
most recent pavilion, Horizon is influenced by the landscape and terrain of Africa
and the Middle East. Adjaye took particular inspiration from the architectural forms
and Aswan stones he encountered in Egypt.
Adjaye has been exploring the notion of pavilion architecture and design since
2003 when he was invited to collaborate with Chris Ofili at the British Pavilion at the
Venice Biennale. Temporary structures for the Frieze Art Fair, London followed in
2003 and 2004. Adjaye then worked on two more pavilions in London and New
York and this work led to a collaboration with Olafur Eliasson on Your black Horizon
at the Venice Art Biennale, 2005.
For Adjaye, Horizon brings a new dimension to the architectural form. With this
pavilion he has created a meditative space, where on entry the individual is faced
with a beautiful landscape obscured behind opaque fretted glass. The black
stained spruce timber pavilion gives an indication of space through illusion as the
perception of the horizon is contained within the architecture and the building’s
Monoforms is David Adjaye’s first foray into furniture design. Also influenced by the
architect’s trips to Africa, the pieces have evolved with particular reference to the
The consideration of relationships between the landscape and architectural form,
between ancient civilisations and the recent built environment have resulted in the
creation of four types of Monoforms, each named after African or Middle Eastern
Each of the four types has been fabricated in Hassan Green Granite and Solid
Walnut with pieces in Polyurethane Foam & Glass Reinforced Polymer currently in
development, raising questions about natural and synthetic materials, the ancient
and the modern. These dialectics are continued in the method of fabrication,
prompting consideration of traditional techniques for making sculpture, furniture
and architecture in relation to contemporary computeraided design. While
Adjaye utilises contemporary technologies in the design and development of the
works, each piece is finished by hand.
The Rome exhibition is the first European public display of Monoforms, which were
premiered at Design Miami in December 2007. Horizon was originally exhibited at
Albion in London.
Curated by Marina Engel for the British School at Rome in collaboration with the
Casa dell’Architettura, Rome and Albion, London. With the support of the John S.
Cohen Foundation, the Bryan Guinness Charitable Trust, Buro Happold,the British
Council and INARCH.