In Conversation with Sumayya Vally

A modern outdoor pavilion structure occupied by eight people, standing underneath.

20th Serpentine Pavilion. image / provided


Sumayya Vally's design, research, and pedagogical practice is searching for expression for hybrid identities and contested territories. Her work is often forensic and draws on the aural, performance, the supernatural, the wayward, and the overlooked as generative places of history and work. Vally is the principal of Counterpace, a collaborative architecture and research practice based between Johannesburg and London with current projects focused on expressions for African and Islamic hybrid identities — both rooted and diasporic.

A TIME100 Next list honouree and designer of the 20th Serpentine Pavilion (2020/2021), Vally is the youngest architect to be commissioned for the internationally renowned architecture program. She has recently worked on initiating and developing Support Structures for Support Structures, a new fellowship program launched at the Serpentine that supports and networks artists working at the intersections of art and ecology, art and social justice, and art and the archive.

Shortlisted for the Moira Gemmill Prize 2022 for Emerging Architecture, Vally is currently serving as Pelli Distinguished Visiting Lecturer at the Illinois School of Architecture.

Introduction by Sean Anderson

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