david adjaye: making memory exhibition opens at design museum london
 

david adjaye: making memory exhibition opens at design museum london

through seven completed and proposed projects by sir david adjaye, the design museum opens a new exhibition titled ‘david adjaye: making memory’. the presentation explores the role of monuments and memorials in the 21st century and, specifically, how the famed british-ghanaian architect enhances architecture as a means of storytelling for this typology. ‘I believe we’re in a period of rethinking ingrained histories’ explains adjaye. ‘this makes us look more critically at the monuments for the 21st century. rather than the imperialist idea of enshrining a singular view, I am interested in exploring the democratisation of the monument. I find narratives that unfold and splinter are more representative of our collective consciousness. by including such narratives, the monument can be transformed to reflect a broader experience of time and place.

 

 

at the core of ‘david adjaye: making memory’ at the design museum, it explores how the form that monuments take, and the way they are experienced, is constantly changing. they are no longer static objects; instead, david adjaye understands them as dynamic spaces that serve a wider purpose to society. the exhibition begins with a visual survey of monuments throughout history, from the acropolis of athens to the 2018 millicent fawcett statue in london. each of the architect’s seven projects are then presented in a dedicated room, alongside video interviews, scaled models and artefacts of inspiration. these objects exemplify how his design process uses aspects of anthropology, history and sociology.


image © ed reeve (main image also)

 

 

the first room is dedicated to the gwangju river reading room that was completed in 2013 in collaboration with writer taiye selasi. adjaye was invited to design a structure that responded to the south korean city’s 10 day pro-democracy uprising in 1980, which ended in the massacre of hundreds of students and citizens. the concrete and timber pavilion houses a library of 200 books about historic social justice and protest. offering a public reading room, the space encourages people to exchange books and ideas about freedom, democracy, equality and human rights.


image © ed reeve

 

 

opening in washington D.C. in september 2016, the national museum of african american history and culture was a long-awaited symbol of the african american contribution to the country’s identity. the building itself comprises a three-tiered structure covered in bronze panels. its form took inspiration from the youruba art form and, specifically, creations by olowe of ise, with the key sculpture displayed in the center of the presentation’s room. the visitors’ journeys throughout the building not only resembles the culture’s development in history but also the significance of the unique site of the museum, where rare yet precious openings are cut from the facade to offer lense-like views of the city’s other monuments.


image © ed reeve

 

 

set to be located next to the palace of westminster in london’s victoria tower gardens, the UK holocaust memorial and learning center will be the first building dedicated to the holocaust in the country. created in collaboration with memorial architect ron arad and landscape architect gustafson porter + bowman, the proposal aims to be an immersive journey for visitors. it will be a place to reflect upon, remind and learn from the genocide of europe’s jewish population and other discriminated groups.


image © ed reeve

 


image © ed reeve

 

 

with a section recreated for the exhibition, the next room showcases the final completed project of adjaye’s on show. it is also the only one that is not a memorial as such. conceived with the american hardwood export council for the 2008 london design festival, the sclera pavilion was designed as a public place that could be simultaneously calming and uplifting whilst in the center of the city. the shape was inspired by the human eye, encouraging a space for contemplation and better understandings of the world around. as a small, simple structure it best exemplifies adjaye’s use of architecture as dynamic spaces for experience.


image © ed reeve

 


image © ed reeve

 

 

set to be located in accra, the national cathedral of ghana will be a 21st century landmark where religion, democracy and local tradition are intertwined.the proposed design will house a two-level 5,000-seat auditorium which, with two podiums for standing, will accommodate congregations of up to 15,000 people. the architectural form builds upon both christian principles and traditional akan culture. above the scaled model hang asante umbrellas that further resemble the inspiration for the building’s form.


image © ed reeve

 

 

the mass extinction memorial observatory will be a monument dedicated to preserving the memory of extinct species. to be located on the isle of portland in dorset, U.K., the design is a continuous spiral walkway wrapped around a large central cavity. at the center, a 3m wide bell will toll each time a species goes extinct. the internal walls will be lined with information about the 860 species that have become extinct since the dodo.


image © ed reeve

 

 

the final room of the exhibition is dedicated to the proposed design of the coretta scott king and martin luther king jr. memorial in boston, the city where the kings studied. just like the surface of the memorial, the exhibition space is engraved with text from their speeches, typographically re-interpretated by african-american artist adam pendleton and type designer david reinfurt. once created, reading the memorial’s text will take visitors along a winding pathway that resembles the long road for civil rights.


image © ed reeve

 

 

regardless of their scale, each project seeks to shape the context and frame the landscape’ concludes david adjaye. ‘for me, the focus is not about the changing of space through an object. it is about the way in which we can adjust the context and landscape to encourage a more open form of engagement. both psychologically and physically, a monument should always be a place of return.’ the exhibition is open at the design museum in london from february 2 to may 5, 2019.

 

 

project info:

 

title: david adjaye: making memory

venue: design museum

dates: february 2 to may 5, 2019

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