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-woman team of Sumayya Vally, Amina Kaskar and Sarah de Villiers. Much of their work emerges from research and interdisciplinary arts-based projects, undertaking predominantly architectural projects, community engagement, exhibition and installation conceptualisation and urban research and design. Their work is influenced with ideas towards inclusivity, otherness and future; and often work with other creative disciplines in the formation of innovative approaches to interesting design challenges. Counterspace is inspired by their location – Johannesburg – and aims to work with developing design expression particularly for Johannesburg and the continent – through urban research, publications, installations and architecture. Counterspace has been involved in a number of research, graphic and immersive design projects with national-scale stakeholders, local architects and various universities in South Africa; in addition to various cultural architectural projects in rural and urbanized South Africa, and internationally. The practice occupies a space adjacent to academic practice, with Sumayya leading Unit 12 at the Graduate School of Architecture, Johannesburg, founded by Prof Lesley Lokko, Sarah currently leading Unit 18 at the same institution, and Amina leading the Housing Ecologies studio at the University of the Witwatersrand postgraduate architecture school.


Serpentine Pavilion | 2020
Serpentine Pavilion 2020

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’


  • Statements: Installation for Politics of Architecture & African State Architecture research, for J. Gallagher at SOAS University, London.
  • BLOOM: GSA Summer Show: November 2019. Braamfontein Johannesburg.
  • What is Radical Today? 40 Positions on Architecture’ – exhbition at the Royal Academy of Arts, London, curated by Gonzalo Herrero. 
  • Conversation Rooms: Institutional Imaginaries. September 2019. In collaboration with Dr Huda Tayob, History and thoery Convenor at the Graduate School of Architecture, UJ. 
  • ​​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. ‘Golden Plateaus’ in Conditions, e-flux, 2019 – Journal for the Sharjah Architecture Triennal
  • Vally, S & De Villiers, S. A Blurry Line on the Plan: Johannesburg Rituals on the Edge’ in FOLIO Vol 2: Noir Radicale. GSA Imprints.
  • 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.