SA architect takes apart past legacies to make history in London

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SA architect takes apart past legacies to make history in London

Once a misunderstood student, Sumayya Vally is the first South African to create the Serpentine Pavilion

Reporter

It’s hard to imagine that the South African architect whose company was selected to create this year’s Serpentine Pavilion, which will stand on the lawn of the Kensington Gardens in London in the northern hemisphere’s summer, says her designs were not always understood and she was never among the strongest in her architecture class.

“In the educational landscape, I didn’t do pretty well. I think at that time what I was designing didn’t have an audience, and it was not very acceptable for the most part,” said Sumayya Vally.

But it was this uniqueness that prompted the University of Johannesburg’s Prof Lesley Lokko, who founded the Graduate School of Architecture at the University of Johannesburg, to invite Vally to lecture at the institution. That same uniqueness once again set her apart, leading to Sumayya’s company Counterspace bagging the coveted honour of designing the prestigious Serpentine Pavilion...

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