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How architect Mariam Kamara is reawakening Niger’s architectural landscape

Rolex Mentor and Protégé Arts Initiative mentee Mariam Kamara is part of an exciting new generation of African architects. Collaborating with her mentor, renowned Ghanian-British architect Sir David Adjaye, she created an innovative design for a cultural centre for her home city, which was presented at the prestigious 17th International Architecture Exhibition this year.

Niger-born Mariam Kamara is part of a new generation of African architects challenging the dominance of Eurocentric design in modern architecture. The protégé of renowned Ghanaian-British architect Sir David Adjaye – who began her mentorship through the Rolex Mentor and Protégé Arts Initiative – Kamara is looking to the past to build for the future and putting people at the forefront.

 

It makes sense then, that when tasked with designing a new cultural centre in her home city of Niamey in Niger, she organised workshops with local high schoolers, artists and performers to hear what they wanted for the city. “In a desert city, they worried about green spaces and places they could go for peace; and if it’s green, it is probably cooler, too,” she says. “They also wanted a place that would reflect local traditions.”

Joined by her mentor Adjaye, Kamara’s journey back to her village in Niger and to the ancient city of Agadez, where residents live in houses built in the 14th century, became the foundation for her plans for the cultural centre. Sustainable design was built into the structure from the very beginning, with towers of locally manufactured bricks creating shade, while allowing for ventilation, a cooling system and water retention.

“Building out of earth is really important to make it sustainable, but also to be livable without having to use air-conditioning inside,” she explains. “With that comes the opportunity to use local masons; the space may look different but it uses the same principles they are used to, without having to bring in outside expertise.”

Kamara’s mentorship with Adjaye has played a vital role in her development as an architect, helping her hone her ideas while empowering her to take risks. “Working through this project with David has allowed me to trust my design instinct more. This has allowed me to confirm my voice and not apologise for it,” she says.

Kamara’s designs were presented at the 17th International Architecture Exhibition – La Biennale di Venezia this year. For the fourth time, Rolex was the Exclusive Partner and Official Timepiece of the exhibition, the Swiss watchmaker having long held a deep interest in the connection between timepieces and architecture. “Rolex has long championed ideals that encourage human ingenuity and the ability to achieve the highest standards of performance,” says Arnaud Boetsch, Rolex’s director of communication and image.

Photography: Rolex / Thomas Chene

Seed Heritage unveils its first homeware collection with a luxe edit of handcrafted goods

Australian fashion brand Seed Heritage has entered the homeware space with a considered collection of bespoke kitchen, bathroom and lifestyle goods. 

Landing just in time for Christmas gifting season, Seed Heritage’s Home and Lifestyle range features a curated edit of luxe stoneware, linens and cotton towels.

“Home and Lifestyle is a category Seed has considered for some time and one that we believe makes absolute sense for our customer. We have designed a range that fits perfectly with our brand, that we hope New Zealanders will love,” says Creative Director, Karla Fitzpatrick.

The brand has collaborated with Australian maker Robert Gordon for a selection of handcrafted ceramics, including dinnerware in neutral and pastel hues.

The range also features pure linen tea towels, waffle napkins, soft cotton-linen blend aprons and gorgeous gingham picnic blankets that are perfect for summertime entertaining.

Available in rich butter lemon and subtle ivory cream are pure cotton striped towels and textured bath mats, along with Fazeek designer soaps, body wash and interior spray.

The Seed Home range is available in select stores and online at seedheritage.com/nz.