For new projects, collaborations & press:

For job opportunities:

Johannesburg, South Africa

Social Media:

Counterspace is a Johannesburg-based collaborative architectural studio, directed by an all-women team of Sumayya Vally, Amina Kaskar and Sarah de Villiers. The firm is dedicated to architectural projects, exhibition design, art installation visualisation, public events curation and urban design, which  are often rigorously research-based. Counterspace uses Johannesburg – its landscapes, systems, people and rituals – as their main inspiration for creating and approaching projects, with an aim toward developing a uniquely Johannesburg and African design language. Their work is predominantly concerned with identity, otherness and imagining new futures; using image and narrative as a means to deconstruct and reconstruct their city. Counterspace has recently completed Folded Skies, a landscape installation recently featured on Dezeen. The firm was also included in Domus’s Top 100 Architectural Firms of the Year for 2019.Their practice involves an intrinsic relationship with post-graduate architecture schools in Johannesburg: Sumayya participating as Unit Leader at the Graduate School of Architecture Unit 12, Sarah teaching in GSA Unit 14, and Amina Kaskar at the University of the Witwatersrand School of Architecture and Planning’s Honours Programme, in Housing Ecologies.


Domus | 2019
Domus Top 100 Firms for 2019

Dezeen | 2019
Folded Skies installation mimics the light created by Johannesburg’s mine dust’

Places Journal
‘Installation: Johannesburg’s Toxic Sunsets’

GSA Unit 12 Website

GSA Unit 14 Website

#BackStoryStock – free representative stock images of Jo’burg citizens for download.

MASContext | 2016
‘7 Modes of Counterespionage’

The Huffington Post: Arts and Culture | 2015
‘Chicago Shows-off; CultureZohn’

House and Leisure | 2017
‘10 Inspirational Buildings in Africa’ 

Future Cape Town | 2016
‘Counterspace: A new way of practising architecture

Chicago Architecture Biennial | 2016
‘Counterspace: What is urgent?’

Design Indaba | 2016
‘Architects investigate Johannesburg’s abandoned mine dumps’


  • ​​South African Fashion Week Fall/Winter 2019 – April 2019. Installation for MSR. Sandton, Johannesburg. 
  • GSA Super Show. November – December 2018. Installation for the Graduate School of Architecture UJ of all postgraduate architectural works. Museum of African Design, Maboneng, Joh​annesburg
  • Kaleidoscope. May 2018. Installation for Kohler at Design Joburg 2018. Sandton, Johannesburg.
  • Pendulum Black Coffee  & L’MAD Runways for SA Fashion Week Autumn Winter ’19. October 2018. 44 Stanley, Johannesburg.
  • Nelson Mandela Capture Site Exhibition 2017. Site in Howick, Kwa-Zulu Natal. Work executed in collaboration with Craig McClenaghan Architecture.
  • Swiss Embassy Art Exhibition, In collaboration with Lorenzo Nassimbeni. 2016 Pretoria
  • Dazzle! September 2016. In collaboration with Stephen Hobbs, Tamara Osso & Io Makandal. Maboneng, Johannesburg.
  • ‘Lost and Found’. Phantoms of Spaces and Times as part of Chicago Architecture Biennial. October 2015 – January 2016. Chicago Cultural Centre, Chicago.
  • Constructing Future Cities, May 2017. For British Council and Future Cape Town. Cape Town.
  • BackStory.  Liz Ogbu, 1to1 Agency for Engagement, Counterspace. August 2017. Johannesburg.
  • ‘Additions and Alterations’ Johannesburg. For Local Studio. November 2015. Fourthwall Books Braamfontein, Johannesburg.
  • ‘Additions and Alterations’ Cape Town. For Local Studio. November February 2016. The Architect, Cape Town City Centre
  • ‘Wits ArchiMart’ May 2015. For University of the Witwatersrand, School of Architecture and Planning. Point of Order, Braamfontein
  • ‘ShowOff Exhibition 2016’ Johannesburg. April 2016, Fox Street Studios, Maboneng, Johannesburg.


  • Vally, S.  2019. An African Almanac. Presented Paper at AMPS Conference, New York.
  • Vally, S.  2019. Speaking in Tongues. Presented Paper at Fielding Architecture, Feminist Practices for a Decolonised Pedagogy, Brighton.
  • Vally, S, De Villiers, S, Kaskar, A. 2016. ‘ The Aesthetics of Absence’. In Lokko, L. ed. PUPAE: Fol Vol One. GSA Imprint.  Pp265-266.
  • Vally, S. ‘Joburg Stardust’. PUPAE – FOLIO Vol O​​ne Winter, GSA Imprint, 2017.
  • Vally, S and Steyn, S. ‘The Translation of Dreams: Unit 11 at the Graduate School of Architecture, South Africa’ Writingplace Journal issue #1 Literary Methods in Architectural Education, expected February 2018.
  • Vally, S. ‘ Radical’. Radical: Unit 11 2017 Vol One, GSA UJ, 2017.
  • Interview contribution in: Hobbs, S. ‘Where Architecture Meets Art’ Arch SA, Journal of South African Institute of Architecture, Issue 86, July August 2017.
  • De Villiers, S. December 2018. ‘Millennial Developments: Architecture in the Time of Risk and Space-Time Compression’. ArchSA Journal of South African Institute of Architecture.
  • De Villiers, S. 2017. ‘Ideas Bank ‘in PUPAE – FOLIO Vol One Winter, GSA Imprint, Johannesburg.
  • De Villiers, S. & Govender T.  Eds. ‘Rogue Economies Vol 1’. GSA UJ. Johannesburg. 2017. Includes graphic design by Counterspace.
  • De Villiers, S & Govender, T. December 2017. ‘Rogue Economies’ – Presented Paper at 10th Conference of the International Forum on Urbanism, Hong Kong.
  • De Villiers, S. & Govender T.  Eds. ‘Rogue Economies Vol 2: (In)Secure. GSA UJ. Johannesburg. 2018.
  • Charman, A, Govender, T, De Villiers S. Impact of Land Systems on Micro Economic Growth. Johannesburg. November 2017
  • GSA Unit 14, de Villiers, S. Govender, T, Ho-Tong, M, Wolff, I. Pumflet: Spectre. August 2017.