NLÉ is led by Kunlé Adeyemi, an architect, designer and ‘urbanist’ with a track record of conceiving and completing high profile, high quality projects internationally. His recent work includes ‘Makoko Floating School’, an innovative, prototype, floating structure located on the lagoon heart of Nigeria’s largest city, Lagos. This acclaimed project is part of an extensive research project – ‘African Water Cities’. NLÉ is currently developing a number of urban, research and architectural projects in Africa; one of which is Chicoco Radio Media Center; the amphibious building in Delta city of Port Harcourt in Nigeria.
Born and raised in Nigeria, Adeyemi studied architecture at the University of Lagos where he began his early practice, before joining the world renowned Office for Metropolitan Architecture (OMA) in 2002. At OMA, working closely with founder Rem Koolhaas for nearly a decade, he led the design, development and execution of numerous projects in Europe, Asia, Africa and the Middle East. Among these projects were the award winning Samsung Museum of Art, the Seoul National University Museum, NM Rothschild Bank in London, Shenzhen Stock Exchange tower in China, Prada Transformer in South Korea, Qatar National Library, Qatar Foundation Headquarters and the 4th Mainland Bridge and master plan in Lagos. Adeyemi was responsible for critical stages in design and realization of these projects. This involved leading OMA’s design team, coordinating a diverse global network of stakeholders and experts collaborators, including Arup for Engineering and Davis Langdon (AECOM) on cost matters.
Kunlé Adeyemi is 2014 Baird Distinguished Visiting Critic of Cornell University in Ithaca, New York, teaching and researching ‘Water & The City’. Previously he was the 2011 Callison Distinguished Visiting Lecturer of the University of Washington, teaching and researching ‘The Modern City in the Age of Globalization’ in Chandigarh – India’s first planned modern city. His main area of academic interest is in developing cities of the global south. He has pursued and developed this issue via a number of research papers and study opportunities. They include a post-professional degree from Princeton University in the US, where with Peter Eisenman he investigated rapid urbanization and the role of market economies in developing cities of the global South, focusing on Lagos.
His hypothesis ‘Urban Crawl’ published in the Log Journal, is a critical exposé on architecture and urbanism in emerging megacities of the global south, which also unravels the complex urban conditions and operative mechanisms of such cities.
His knowledge and opinions in this area are much sought after. Consequently, he has acted as a speaker and visiting critic at prestigious institutions such as the Guggenheim New York, Harvard University, MIT, the Cooper Union, the School of Oriental and African Studies, the Architectural Association in London, ETH in Zurich, Chandigarh College of Architecture in India and Delft Technical University in the Netherlands.
All of Kunlé Adeyemi’s experience, knowledge and background underpin his new architectural, creative design, and urbanism practice for Africa and other developing regions. The overarching aim of the practice is to bridge critical gaps in infrastructure and urban development by creating coherent networks and global exchanges that work for people. The scope of the practice is not limited to architecture. He has also designed furniture, among many other things, and explores all social and cultural possibilities that contribute to urbanism.
Adeyemi is currently one of 5 members of the International Advisory Council for the World Design Capital 2014 being hosted by Cape Town, South Africa. This International design event is an opportunity to identify, nurture and promote projects that offer tangible evidence of how design can improve lives, within the uniquely South African and African context. In 2010, Adeyemi was the creative director for Lagos Photo – Nigeria’s first contemporary public photography exhibition with the African Artist’s Foundation. Lagos Photo is an urban intervention aimed to inspire and enlighten people about Lagos and other African cities, through photography in public spaces. His article ‘The Architecture of Photography’ was published in the Lagos Photo 2010 catalogue. Fundamental to his vision for developing cities is the proposed 4th Mainland Bridge & Master Plan in Lagos state – with OMA for Missing Link Motorway Development Company. A project, which has the potential to positively transform daily life for millions of people in one of the world’s most populous and challenging cities.
“Whether a chair for charity in South Africa, a revolutionary rotating art space for Prada in Seoul or the visionary plan to eliminate traffic paralysis in Lagos with the 4th Mainland Bridge, in each project the essential needs of performance, value and identity – critical for success – are fundamentally the same for me. Although quantitatively different from place to place, the responsibility of achieving these needs at maximum, with minimum means, remains the same globally. I am constantly inspired by solutions we discover in everyday life in the world’s developing cities” — Kunlé Adeyemi, 2010