Counterspace is a Johannesburg-based collaborative architectural studio led by Sumayya Vally.

Counterspace is inspired by its location – Johannesburg – and is committed to developing design expression particularly for the continent – through design research, publishing, pedagogy, built things, buildings and other forms of architecture.

The studio occupies a space between the functional and the speculative; pedagogy and praxis; simultaneously describing cities and their histories and futures, and imagining them.

An exploration into evolving methods of collaborative practice and research,  it operates adjacent to the academy, with Sumayya leading Unit 12 of the Graduate School of Architecture Johannesburg and collaborations on several research projects with the City.

Counterspace also runs Counterparts, an interdisciplinary space, residency, dialogue and publishing platform, with an interest in tracing, seeding and carving collaborative ways of working.

About Sumayya

Sumayya’s design, research and pedagogical practice is committed to finding expression for hybrid identities and contested territories. She is in love with Johannesburg. It serves as her laboratory for finding speculative histories, futures, archaeologies, and design languages; with the intent to reveal the invisible. Her work is often forensic, and draws on performance, the supernatural, the wayward and the overlooked as generative places of history and work. She is presently based between Johannesburg and London as the lead designer for the Serpentine Pavilion 2020/20 Plus 1.



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*Counterparts is an initiative by Sumayya Vally, Counterspace; with Sarah de Villiers.