| is there a user's manual for this
| type of thing? we see Adjaye has
| gone from 'young enthusiastic talented'
| to 'architect for/and the people' stage
Quite how fully he has achieved this critical shift can be judged in
this exhibition. It encompasses 10 public buildings, recently completed
or currently under construction, including the two east London "Ideas
Stores", the Stephen Lawrence and Bernie Grant centres, also in London,
a market hall in Wakefield, Yorkshire, the Museum of Contemporary Art in
Denver and the Nobel Peace Centre in Oslo. It is a dramatically diverse
portfolio that embraces not only art installations but also hard civic
projects in problem areas.
Adjaye, to his credit, rarely mentions his colour, although he is in
effect the only high-profile black architect in the world. How this
informs his architecture is interesting to reflect on. The gallery
upstairs at the Whitechapel has been draped in black. Objects, materials
and models are seen against this profound black ground like jewels
against velvet, yet the architecture is not handled with white gloves.
Instead, perhaps informed by the junk/bazaar/laboratory approach of
Herzog de Meuron's astonishing show at London's Tate Modern last year,
cheap, everyday but often unexpected materials are assembled on tables.
There are also African tribal artefacts, a style cited as inspiration
for architectural form and pattern, while the (pretentious) exhibition
catalogue shows African huts and contemporary townscapes and details.