Visiting Lecture | Sumayya Vally, Counterspace Studio: Counterpoints

Tuesday, November 24, 2020, 12 - 2pm

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This event will be conducted through Zoom. Please register in advance here. Zoom account registration is required.

Architecture is a condensation and an overlaying of times, stories, field notes, excerpts, archaeologies and forensic samplings. Practice, research and pedagogy presents us with platforms to think through and respond to the inextricable connections between history, forces of labour, race and class struggles, capitalism, toxicity and climate change. Diverse origins and forms of practice that bring to light our deep pasts and deep futures are, for my. practice, not novel or radical - they are simply implicit and imperitave. 

The lecture will be followed by a public live discussion including Lesley Lokko as respondent.

Counterspace is a Johannesburg-based collaborative architectural studio led by its founder and principal, Sumayya Vally. Inspired by its location and working through design research, publishing, pedagogy, built things,  buildings and other forms of architecture, Counterspace is committed to developing design expression particularly for the continent.

The studio is an exploration into evolving methods of collaborative practice and research,  and it operates adjacent to the academy, with Sumayya leading Unit 12 at the Graduate School of Architecture, Johannesburg and collaborations on several research projects with the school and the City. 

Counterspace also runs Counterparts, an interdisciplinary space, residency, dialogue and publishing platform, with an interest in tracing, seeding and carving collaborative ways of working. 

Sumayya Vally's design, research and pedagogical practice is committed to finding expression for hybrid identities and contested territories. She is in love with Johannesburg. It serves as her laboratory for finding speculative histories, futures, archaeologies, and design languages; with the intent to reveal the invisible. Her work is often forensic, and draws on performance, the supernatural, the wayward and the overlooked as generative places of history and work. She is presently based between Johannesburg and London as the lead designer for the Serpentine Pavilion 2020/20 Plus 1.

This lecture and discussion is free and accessible to the public.

View the full Fall 2020 Lectures and Events List.


  • Founded by inventor, industrialist and philanthropist Peter Cooper in 1859, The Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art offers education in art, architecture and engineering, as well as courses in the humanities and social sciences.

  • “My feelings, my desires, my hopes, embrace humanity throughout the world,” Peter Cooper proclaimed in a speech in 1853. He looked forward to a time when, “knowledge shall cover the earth as waters cover the great deep.”

  • From its beginnings, Cooper Union was a unique institution, dedicated to founder Peter Cooper's proposition that education is the key not only to personal prosperity but to civic virtue and harmony.

  • Peter Cooper wanted his graduates to acquire the technical mastery and entrepreneurial skills, enrich their intellects and spark their creativity, and develop a sense of social justice that would translate into action.