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Mariam Kamara, founder of architecture studio atelier masōmī in Niger, will this evening, Monday 25 November 2019, present the plans for her first major building project in Niger – a library and arts centre – in conversation with Sir David Adjaye at London’s Royal Academy of Arts. Adjaye and Kamara are joined by a shared passion to rethink contemporary architecture on the African continent. They are consistently looking for ways to make the future take shape in areas that often lack in infrastructure and confidence. Adjaye has won international acclaim for his ambitious designs and innovative use of materials in projects that display a high degree of awareness of the social purpose of architecture and the ways in which it can positively contribute to issues prevalent in contemporary society. This evening’s conversation between the architects will be chaired by Tim Marlow, the Royal Academy’s Artistic Director.

Last year, Adjaye announced Kamara as his protégé on the Rolex mentoring programme. Kamara obtained her Masters in Architecture from the University of Washington. In 2013, she became a founding member of united4design, a global collective of architects working on projects in the US, Afghanistan and Niger. This led to her founding atelier masōmī in 2014, an architecture and research firm through which she tackles a wide variety of public, cultural, residential, commercial and urban design projects. Her work is guided by the belief that architects have an important role to play in thinking spaces that have the power to elevate, dignify, and provide a better quality of life. Through her practice, Mariam aims to discover innovative ways of doing so, while maintaining an intimate dialog between architecture, people, and context.

atelier masōmī regularly collaborates with local teams of engineers, masons and other craftsmen to produce projects that respond to the needs they identify on the ground, harnessing both local materials and skills. Kamara tells RIBA, “My ambition is to develop my architectural voice and master my craft, as Adjaye has done. What really gets me going is grappling with identity. The built environment can be very problematic – we can do a lot of damage. Adjaye seems able to draw from different cultural influences, both African and local, wherever he is working. That is something I would really love to learn to do. He has incredible sensitivity in the way he defines space, particularly in the homes he designs; it is so amazing that it’s almost depressing!”

Mariam Kamara and David Adjaye in conversation at Royal Academy of Arts | Monday 25 November 2019, 6.30–8pm

Feature image: HIKMA – A Religious and Secular Complex / atelier masōmī + studio chahar (via atelier masōmī)

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