Recently announced the 2018−2019 mentoring pair in architecture in the Rolex Mentor and Protégé Arts Initiative: Ghanaian-British architect Sir David Adjaye and his protégée Mariam Kamara from Niger revealed their plans during the 16th International Architecture Exhibition of La Biennale di Venezia .
Since the announcement of the mentorship in February, the mentor and protégée have been in regular contact, with Sir David giving the young architect advice on how to balance the demands of running an architecture practice with the more artistic aspects of design.
For the mentoring period, the two have agreed on a project that entails the design of a public space in Niamey, the capital of Niger, which will serve as a cultural centre or an arts institution. For the two architects, it is essential that the building meets local needs.
Sir David and Kamara are the fifth mentor-protégé architecture pair in the Arts Initiative, an international philanthropy programme that since 2002 has helped make a contribution to global culture by bringing great masters together with emerging talents in seven artistic disciplines for a period of creative collaboration in a one-to-one mentoring relationship. In addition to architecture, which became a distinct discipline in 2012, the disciplines are dance, film, literature, music, theatre and visual arts.
To date, Álvaro Siza (Portugal), Kazuyo Sejima (Japan), Peter Zumthor (Switzerland and Sir David Chipperfield (United Kingdom) have taken part as mentors, choosing talented young practitioners from all over the world to benefit from their expertise and time. Recently, Rolex increased the possible period of mentoring to two years across all the disciplines.
“Architecture is an art form that requires time and deep, long thought and deep experience,” said Sir David Adjaye. “It is inextricably connected to time in the sense that it is a long form in terms of its gestation, its training, and in terms of becoming good at it.”
Kamara was selected by Sir David after an international search by a Rolexdesignated nominating panel identified young architects who would benefit most from a partnership with him. “I am working a lot in West Africa now and one of the deficiencies on the continent is a lack of confidence and skill. You have to have extraordinary powers to be able to do things. I felt that Mariam was somebody to support,” he said. Sir David summed up his expectations of the mentorship: “I am excited to see what Mariam will do with me and what I will do with her in terms of the project areas that we want to look at. I think it will stimulate both of us.”
Kamara said her goal is “to deepen her training and sharpen her skills in orde to be better equipped to address some of the challenges of designing for rapidly expending cities, particularly those in Africa. Learning from Sir David is an incredibly motivating force as I focus on creating spaces that serve communities, elevate and dignify them,” she said of her work in Niamey.