About the Speaker
Sumayya Vally is principal of the award-winning architecture and research studio Counterspace—a design, research and pedagogical practice searching for expression for hybrid identities and territory, particularly for African and Islamic conditions—both rooted and diasporic. Her design process is often forensic, and draws on the aural, performance and the overlooked as generative places of history and work.
In 2019, Counterspace was invited to design the 20th Serpentine Pavilion in London, making Vally the youngest architect ever to win this internationally renowned commission. As Artistic Director, Vally is currently working on curating the first Islamic Arts Biennale taking place in Jeddah in 2023. She is currently collaborating on the design of the Ellen Johnson Sirleaf Presidential Center for Women and Development in Monrovia, Liberia, the first presidential library dedicated to a female head of state, where she will oversee the scenography, pavilions, and exhibition spaces. She is also working on a garden and gathering place commemorating the 5th Pan-African Congress held in Manchester, UK, in 1945. The practicee operates adjacent to the academy. For six years she led the masters’ studio, Unit 12, at the Graduate School of Architecture, University of Johannesburg—founded by Professor Lesley Lokko, with the intent to create a curriculum for the African continent. She has taught and lectured widely, most recently as Pelli Distinguished Visiting Lecturer at the School of Architecture, University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign. www.counterspace-studio.com