A special issue of The Architectural Review featuring the collected letters of 46 architects, critics, curators, writers, illustrators and editors to the eternal figure of the ‘young architect’.
Dear (younger) Sumayya,
- There is always architecture waiting to happen in places that are overlooked:
- you will soon fall in love with gold, kitsch, supernatural ideas,
- with very strange and everyday things – a disco-church on wheels in the inner city,
- the performance of a ritual gathering on a patch of veld-grass of a traffic island next
to a highway,
- the rhythms and space of an Ethiopian coffee ceremony,
- the smell before a Highveld thunderstorm,
- the choreography of Fordsburg on a Friday before, during and after prayer time,
- the specific colour spectrum of a mine-dump sunset,
- the tenacity of indigenous plants and indigenous ceremonies and practices – all the magic that is Joburg. There is another canon here.
- Ingest atmospheres – learn how to read and feel colour, dust, mist, the phases of the moon. There is another canon here.
- Look at these things deeply.
- Feel them, absorb them.
- You will soon develop a mistrust for the historical record. Listen to that.
- Look so deeply at what is present that you notice the silences and the absences too. There is yet another canon here, in these silences and absences.
- Read in other languages.
- Write in your mother tongues. Look deeply at sentence structure and vocabulary.
There is another canon here.
- Learn how to dissect the index of an archive.
- And how to make your own indexes for archives.
- Stay soft and sensitive – it is a deep strength, and architecture needs it. Do not let anyone tell you otherwise.
- Don’t listen to anyone who tells you that everything you can ever imagine has already been done. They are incorrect.
- Beauty and social justice are not mutually exclusive. Beauty is social justice.
- There is an infinite number of untold stories, unheard voices, unrealised dreams, undreamt worlds.
- Poetry is a necessity.
- And dreaming is everything.
Johannesburg, South Africa
26 June 2020