David Adjaye

In the course of the nearly thirty years of his practice, Sir David Adjaye’s projects have been realized on five continents. They include cultural and historical landmarks—such as the National Museum of African American History and Culture, in Washington, D.C., and the planned Holocaust Memorial, in London—and sites that show the possibilities of civic engagement, such as the Moscow School of Management SKOLKOVO and the new building for the Studio Museum in Harlem. His practice, based in New York, London, and Accra, is like a body, he says, “implanting itself globally across many geographies.”

During a recent conversation with the writer Emmanuel Iduma, Adjaye was most impassioned when he spoke of drastic changes ahead, in which cities of the future will be increasingly brutal. He has the credentials to make these claims. An artist’s architect, Adjaye has worked with Chris Ofili, Lorna Simpson, and Olafur Eliasson, all of whom push the boundaries of the imagination. Yet it seems clear to him that there are distinctions to make with regard to scale: between the domestic and official, the intimate and public. Here, Adjaye, whose own photographs of architecture in Africa and around the world have been collected in books and shared widely on Instagram, reflects on the sensibilities that inform what kinds of homes we build, and how we live in them. Change might be inevitable, but Adjaye believes the home must be designed as a refuge.

If you look at the houses that we’ve done, there’s always either a reference to the local area, or to the construction, or to the materiality.

Emmanuel Iduma: When you begin designing a home, what kind of visual references do you use, and how do you approach that kind of research?

: It’s quite a specific task, especially if you have the luxury of being able to make a home at the beginning of the twenty-first century. For me, it’s not so much about visual references or trying to

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