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Young Female South African Architects Reinvent Serpentine Pavilion in London

In 2020 the prestigious Serpentine Pavilion was awarded to South African studio Counterspace. Three women run the interdisciplinary Johannesburg practice. They are the youngest architects to land the Pavilion commission in its 20-year history. Past designers include architectural superstars such as Frank Gehry, Daniel Libeskind and Peter Zumthor. Projects in the Counterspace portfolio include performances, installations, choreography and curating, as well as research investigations and building designs. Works include Folded Skies, a large-scale mirror sculpture in Cape Town, and the Brixton Mosque in Johannesburg, a scheme to wrap an existing church reused as a mosque in a new envelope that speaks the architectural language of Islamic geometry. By contrast with the object-oriented architecture of most pavilions to date, Counterspace emphasises process. It wants to steer and gather the Serpentine Pavilion into being over time. To date, the Serpentine Pavilion has provided a passive setting for people to meet. But Counterspace aims to actively engage with communities and sites of marginalised history across London – to draw people in.