David Adjaye: Form, Heft, Material

The exhibition Form, Heft, Material continues at haus der kunst, and is the most extensive career survey of architect David Adjaye. The exhibition allows visitors to physically explore over 45 projects via drawings, models, sketches, films, and large-scale fragments of projects that highlight Adjaye’s architectural sensibilities.

Form, Heft, Material is divided into six sections: inspirational drawings and materials; small-scale monuments like the accessible pavilion “Horizon”, the monoforms and furniture; the section Living Spaces, including the Elektra House and Dirty House, Seven and Silverlight; Democracy of Knowledge presenting public buildings (Idea Store, Stephen Lawrence Centre, Cape Coast Slavery Museum); urban buildings with socio-political functions, including the Moscow School of Management, Sugar Hill (apartments for socially vulnerable tenants); urban studies and masterplanning; and a section presenting Adjaye’s research on African metropolitan architecture.

Adjaye’s heterogeneous work comprises approximately 50 built projects—from luxury shops and museums to libraries and social housing. His most recent commissions include the design of the National Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington, D.C., as well as the National Museum of Slavery and Freedom in Cape Coast, Ghana. The buildings of the Ghanaian-British architect are often developed in collaboration with artist friends, including the homes he designed for Chris Ofili, Sue Webster and Tim Noble, Lorna Simpson and James Casebere.

Adjaye’s private structures play with the contrast between hermetically sealed fronts and unexpectedly generous openings in the back, thereby accommodating the owners’ need for a private retreat. In contrast, as open and permeable structures, his public buildings are socially effective architecture. Unlike structures of pure functionalism and iconic monumentality, they approach their users rather than patronize them. Adjaye often uses materials that change colour through their exposure to light, take on different textures due to varying weather conditions or provoke viewers to touch them because of their distinctive tactile qualities. They thereby engage sensually in a dialogue with their audience.

Form, Heft, Material curated by Okwui Enwezor and Zoë Ryan is organized by haus der kunst and the Art Institute of Chicago, where the exhibition will be on view from September 19, 2015 – February 7, 2016.



Oliver Enwonwu is founder and Editor-in-Chief of Omenka magazine, Director, Omenka Gallery and Chief Executive, Revilo. He holds a first degree in Biochemistry, advanced diploma in Exploration Geophysics (distinction), Post Graduate Diplomas in Applied Geophysics and Visual Art (distinction) and a Masters in Art History, all from the University of Lagos. He is the founder, Executive Director, and trustee of The Ben Enwonwu Foundation. He also sits on the board of several organizations including the National Gallery of Art, Nigeria and the Reproduction Rights Society of Nigeria. Enwonwu is also president of both the Society of Nigerian Artists and the Alliance of Nigerian Art Galleries.

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