'The Africa Centre' by Freehaus Opens its Doors in London

With a design that celebrates the diversity of Africa and its diaspora.

Design
1,255 Hypes 0 Comments

London-based architecture studio Freehaus has taken a 1960s office building in Southwark and transformed it into a new space for The Africa Centre, creating a headquarters that will house a pan-African restaurant, bar lounge, multifunctional gallery, event space, learning facility and a business incubator.

The completion of the project falls 60 years after The Africa Centre was first established in the city’s Covent Garden area, when it aimed to create a ‘home from home’ for African people in London. After a process that saw them whittled down from a pool of 60 architects, Freehaus was chosen to lead the project in 2019, and has since meticulously worked its way through a thoughtful retrofit.

Jonathan Hagos, co-director of Freehaus said:

“The key to the brief was for The Africa Centre’s new headquarters to be unmistakably African. Given the breadth of diversity on the continent and among the diaspora, we were keen to avoid stereotypes and well-trodden aesthetic tropes. At the same time, we wanted to avoid continent-sweeping generalisations. ‘Africa isn’t a country’ is a familiar response, often born of frustration at the dismissal of understanding of the breadth in peoples, cultures and traditions that span the African continent.

We wanted to turn this misnomer into a strength and envisage what an embassy for a continent might look like in the 21st century; a space that demonstrates what connects us and binds us to one another, while celebrating the dynamism of the continent.”

Through their initial research, the Freehaus team identified traditions that are shared across the African continent and global diaspora. The work of architects David Adjaye and Francis Kére provided strong departure points for the design, along with Chris Spring’s book African Art Close-up, and African Architecture Evolution and Transformation by Nnamdi Elleh.

This led to the practice working alongside collaborators interior designer Tola Ojuolape and brand designer, Mam’gobozi Design Factory to create eight themes that would provide structure to the architectural and design approach. Interiors see clay plaster walls combined with brightly coloured furniture and curated artworks, while the exterior has been updated with black paint, making the building stand out from the neighbouring architecture.

Having opened to the public recently, the centre will programme events that celebrate the diversity of Africa and its diaspora through art, culture, business and entrepreneurship. Its gallery space is currently playing host to the first solo show of Tanzanian visual artist Sungi Mlengeya in a show exploring Blackness and womanhood. See further details about the programme via the organisation’s website.

In other architectural news, the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) has revealed the winners of its National Awards programme, naming 29 buildings the best in new UK architecture.

The Africa Centre
66 Great Suffolk Street
London
SE1 0BL

Read Full Article

What to Read Next

Frank Gehry’s Battersea Building Opens its Doors
Design

Frank Gehry’s Battersea Building Opens its Doors

Offering a rare opportunity to purchase a Gehry-designed home.

LEGO Celebrates 90th Anniversary By Opening Its Biggest Store in the World
Toys

LEGO Celebrates 90th Anniversary By Opening Its Biggest Store in the World

The Leicester Square location is back.

Aesop Opens Its Doors to New Store on Regent Street, London
Design

Aesop Opens Its Doors to New Store on Regent Street, London

Embracing the grand 1819 neoclassical colonnades built by architect John Nash.


Gagosian Opens New Boutique in the Heart of London
Art

Gagosian Opens New Boutique in the Heart of London

Featuring an array of rare books, editions, apparel and more.

NIGO Continues to Honor the Real-to-Wear Ethos for KENZO SS23
Fashion

NIGO Continues to Honor the Real-to-Wear Ethos for KENZO SS23

Debuting his sophomore collection for the Parisian brand.

Formula 1 Scripted Series With Driver Daniel Ricciardo in Development at Hulu
Entertainment

Formula 1 Scripted Series With Driver Daniel Ricciardo in Development at Hulu

The streaming giant is currently searching for a writer on the project.

Mr. Saturday SS23 Dives Into the Seduction of European Cabaret
Fashion

Mr. Saturday SS23 Dives Into the Seduction of European Cabaret

Featuring oversized, avant-garde and restructured design notes.

HYPEGOLF and Toyota Tundra Invite You to Range Day in Miami
Events 

HYPEGOLF and Toyota Tundra Invite You to Range Day in Miami

Presented by Toyota
A day of golfing, Caribbean bites and the 2022 Toyota Tundra in Florida’s tropical climate.

The Best Exhibits at Goodwood Festival of Speed 2022
Automotive 

The Best Exhibits at Goodwood Festival of Speed 2022

Highlighting newness from BMW, drift teams and McLaren’s limitless customization program.


Blizzard’s ‘Overwatch 2’ Will Replace the Original Game
Gaming

Blizzard’s ‘Overwatch 2’ Will Replace the Original Game

Making the first game in the franchise completely unplayable.

Meet Far From Home, Manchester’s Streetwear Label Looking To Take Its Angolan and Portuguese Roots Global
Fashion 

Meet Far From Home, Manchester’s Streetwear Label Looking To Take Its Angolan and Portuguese Roots Global

The family behind the brand talks heritage, influence, passion for local communities and more.

A ‘Ninja Warrior’ Obstacle Course Could Be Included in the Los Angeles 2028 Summer Olympics
Sports

A ‘Ninja Warrior’ Obstacle Course Could Be Included in the Los Angeles 2028 Summer Olympics

The obstacle course is being tested for its potential inclusion in late June.

Tiffany & Co. Shares How Kendrick Lamar's Diamond "Crown of Thorns" Was Crafted
Fashion

Tiffany & Co. Shares How Kendrick Lamar's Diamond "Crown of Thorns" Was Crafted

Taking 10 months and over 1,300 hours of labor.

HYPEGOLF After Hours: LA Golf Spotlights Creative Milestones at the Clubhouse
Events 

HYPEGOLF After Hours: LA Golf Spotlights Creative Milestones at the Clubhouse

Presented by LA Golf
An exclusive launch party introduced pro golfer Paris Hilinski as Creative Director and more.

More ▾
 
Subscribe to our Newsletter

Gain access to exclusive interviews with industry creatives, think pieces, trend forecasts, guides and more.

By subscribing, you agree to our Terms of Use and Privacy Policy.

Looks like you’re using an ad-blocker

We charge advertisers instead of our readers. Support us by whitelisting our site.

Whitelist Us

How to Whitelist Us

screenshot
  1. Click the AdBlock icon in the browser extension area in the upper right-hand corner.
  2. Under “Pause on this site” click “Always”.
  3. Refresh the page or click the button below to continue.
screenshot
  1. Click the AdBlock Plus icon in the browser extension area in the upper right-hand corner.
  2. Block ads on – This website” switch off the toggle to turn it from blue to gray.
  3. Refresh the page or click the button below to continue.
screenshot
  1. Click the AdBlocker Ultimate icon in the browser extension area in the upper right-hand corner.
  2. Switch off the toggle to turn it from “Enabled on this site” to “Disabled on this site”.
  3. Refresh the page or click the button below to continue.
screenshot
  1. Click the Ghostery icon in the browser extension area in the upper right-hand corner.
  2. Click on the “Ad-Blocking” button at the bottom. It will turn gray and the text above will go from “ON” to “OFF”.
  3. Refresh the page or click the button below to continue.
screenshot
  1. Click the UBlock Origin icon in the browser extension area in the upper right-hand corner.
  2. Click on the large blue power icon at the top.
  3. When it turns gray, click the refresh icon that has appeared next to it or click the button below to continue.
screenshot
  1. Click the icon of the ad-blocker extension installed on your browser.You’ll usually find this icon in the upper right-hand corner of your screen. You may have more than one ad-blocker installed.
  2. Follow the instructions for disabling the ad blocker on the site you’re viewing.You may have to select a menu option or click a button.
  3. Refresh the page or click the button below to continue.