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The annual Design Indaba Conference has over its 22-year existence been heralded as the world’s best festival of creativity. Since it was established, we’ve seen design and design’s impact on the African continent grow from strength to strength. While the Conference shines a spotlight on a number of creative industries, architecture has emerged as a sector focussed on indigenous solutions to problems that affect Africa, whether it be the harsh climate, a lack of resources or difficulty accessing education. At the heart of this solutions-based approach to architecture are a number of Design Indaba alumni who have shared their knowledge, made connections and launched their projects on our global platform.
In 2016, Rwandan architect Christian Benimana inspired the audience with the idea that architecture must go beyond the design of the building and into an understanding of how buildings impact the lives of users. With the world renowned architectural firm, MASS Design Group, he is leading the implementation of the African Design Center, a field-based apprenticeship to be established in Africa. In the same year, Zimbabwean-born Maxwell Mutanda presented the ways that design and architecture can be used to tackle social and environmental problems.
Johannesburg’s Local Studio headed up by architect Thomas Chapman presented the Trevor Huddleston Memorial Centre – a screen to memorialise the forcibly removed residents of Sophiatown. The project, which sought to rectify some of the wrongs of Apartheid, was partially funded and facilitated by Design Indaba. Chapman was also integral to another Design Indaba project, the Arch for Arch – a commissioned architectural structure that commemorates the work and life of one of South Africa’s most celebrated figures, Archbishop Desmond Tutu.
The Conference has also played host to number of architure rockstars in Diébédo Francis Kéré, David Adjaye and Issa Diabaté who have all made multiple appearances.
What the conference leaves behind is institutional knowledge in the form of Design Talks that live on designindaba.com. Free and easily accessible, the presentations delivered by each speaker serves as an unprecedented look into the creative processes of some of the world’s leading experts in the field.
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