Buildings are deeply emotive structures which form our psyche. People think they're just things they maneuver through, but the makeup of a person is influenced by the nature of spaces.

— David Adjaye

The most instructive David Adjaye quotes that are life-changing and eye-opening

If you just live in New York and you only know New York, you know a certain kind of condition of formality and informality. By being able to go to another context and to be able to use that as a counter foil to the context you know, you are about to see a wider range.


The first 10 years, I was just building just to understand what I was doing and I didn't trust my intuition to just produce. Then, in the last five years, I have really been reflecting on what I am producing and what it is doing.


The houses [my first project in London] were reactions to the condition of the city and my frustrations with the norms that were being played out. In a way they were slightly subconscious but reactions to that condition and a way to posit new possibilities within certain pervasive norms.


The museum in D.C. is really a narrative museum - the nature of a people and how you represent that story. Whereas the Studio Museum is really a contemporary art museum that happens to be about the diaspora and a particular body of contemporary artists ignored by the mainstream. The Studio Museum has championed that and brought into the mainstream. So the museums are like brothers, but different.


For me, architecture is a social act.


I got into architecture because I was searching for a way to produce in the world. I went to art school and thought I would do it through art, but I realized very quickly that I was interested in the social ramifications of form making. So buildings became the vehicle and fulfilled that thing. That satisfied me when I produced them. I decided this is what I wanted to do with the rest of my life.


In some conditions, the architecture of textile is more relevant than in other conditions or the opacity of the material form. Pattern in the world of scarce materiality and a hybridity becomes a way of creating a new authenticity. Sometimes there is a certain kind of nobility of a group of materials literally of the earth, which had a certain nobility of presence, but is very different from the materials we have now.


In a way, I feel I have enough tools and knowledge now that when I build it has a very specific agency that's very conscious. It's no longer speculative; it's really constructed. I'm very interested in how that consciousness, about how I am producing, is working within different conditions. It's like growing up.


The thing about architecture is that it's an art [you] simply learn more by doing more. It's one of those things that is really not an art about thinking, but doing. So in a way, what it has done is greatly intensify the way that I build.


I'm totally into architecture for all strata of society.

High design should not just be for rich people.


Buildings for me represent opportunities of agency, transformation, and storytelling. They are not just artifacts. There is this big tradition of buildings-as-artifacts - constructed artifacts - but for me they are these incredible sites of negotiation.


In a way, going to Africa allowed me to see possibilities that sometimes seem impossible in certain conditions. It also allowed me to see opportunities for material strategies. I hate it when people think I went and got something [from Africa] and brought it here. It's more about how it affects the way in which I work and affects [my] creativity.


About David Adjaye

Quotes 16 sayings
Profession Architect
Birthday 1966

Context is so important, not to mimic but to become part of the place.

I wanted a building that acknowledges its surroundings.


What I resist is techniques. I find techniques very problematic. So when critics talk about my work in those terms, I find that they miss the condition. I am comfortable with the notion of pattern and ornament as a system of organization, [but] for me it acts as a textile. So it's not about pattern, but the notion of architecture through the lens of textile, rather than architecture through the lens of brick and mortar.


Africa is an extraordinary opportunity at the moment

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