Serpentine 2021 pavilion by Counterspace Studio

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Counterspace Studio. Sumayya Vally, Sarah de Villiers and Amina Kaskar.
Venue / Address
Serpentine Gallery. Kensington Gardens, London W2 3XA. UK.
11 Jun 2020 to 11 Oct 2021.

Sumayya Vally, Amina Kaskar, Sarah de Villiers. ​Counterspace

Counterspace is a Johannesburg-based architecture and research studio led by Sumayya Vally Much of her work stems from art-based research, pedagogy, and interdisciplinary projects, undertaking predominantly architectural projects, community engagement, exhibition and installation conceptualization, and urban design and research.

Her work is influenced by ideas about inclusion, otherness, and the future, and she often works with other creative disciplines to shape innovative approaches to interesting design challenges. Counterspace is inspired by its location, Johannesburg, and aims to work with the development of design expression, particularly for Johannesburg and the mainland, through urban research, publications, installations, and architecture.

​Counterspace has been involved in a number of immersive, graphic design, and research projects with stakeholders on a national scale, including local architects and various universities in South Africa, as well as various cultural architectural projects in rural and urbanized South Africa and internationally.

Sumayya Vally has creatively shaped the inaugural Islamic Arts Biennale in Jeddah (January 23–April 23, 2023). From the theme, concept, narrative, and creative direction of set design, with design by OMA, to the experience and identity of the subject, the contemporary commissions, and the direction and supervision of the experience and narrative in general, she is actively working to broaden and deepen the definition of Islamic arts in an effort to incorporate new discourses and manifest identities that are reflective, resonant, and generative with the philosophies and experience of Islam. She operates alongside the academy. For six years (2015–2021), she led the master's studio, Unit 12, at the University of Johannesburg Graduate School of Architecture, founded by Professor Lesley Lokko, with the intention of creating a curriculum for the African continent. She has taught and lectured extensively, most recently as the Pelli Distinguished Visiting Professor at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign School of Architecture. Vally leads a new Masters programme, Hijra, at the Royal College of Art and is an honorary professor of practice at the Bartlett School of Architecture.



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