Coming soon gallery 2

David Adjaye: Making Memory

How can a building shape our perception of events – and how can architecture, rather than words, be used to tell stories?

Discover new monuments and memorials by celebrated British-Ghanaian architect, Sir David Adjaye OBE. Get a first peek at ongoing work and explore the influences behind the highly acclaimed Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington D.C. and more.

What to expect

The form that monuments take and the way that they are used is constantly changing. Monuments are a record of who we are in the world and what we have done. They are deeply ingrained in our psyche as a way of memorialising our triumphs and failures. Through this exhibition, celebrated architect Sir David Adjaye OBE presents a new architectural narrative for the monument where architecture and form are used as storytelling devices.

Discover seven of Adjaye’s landmark structures to explore the design, role and use of contemporary monuments. With projects including the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington D.C and the UK Holocaust Memorial and Learning Centre in London, these monuments and memorials show how Adjaye uses architecture and form to reflect on history, memory and record human lives.

This exhibition is part of the Design Museum programme inviting designers to think in public about a theme of their choice. Previous collaborations include Breathing Colour by Hella Jongerius and 100 Mile City by Peter Barber.

Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington D.C. Image by Alan Karchmer.

Gwangju Pavilion, Adjaye Associates. Image by Kyungsub Shin.

Sclera, Adjaye Associates. Image by Leonardo Finotti.

MEMO, Adjaye Associates. Image by Adjaye Associates.


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David Adjaye: Making Memory

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Tickets £12
Concession, family and gift tickets available
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Sir David Adjaye OBE

Born in Tanzania to Ghanaian parents David Adjaye’s influences range from contemporary art and music to science and African art forms. After moving to the UK, Adjaye studied architecture at the London South Bank University and the Royal College of Art before setting up his first office in 1994 which was later reformed as Adjaye Associates in 2000. His work creating striking private houses for artists and high-profile clients in London, led to several new public buildings such as the Idea Stores and the Stephen Lawrence Centre.

Over the past few decades Adjaye has established himself as one of the leading architects of his generation. While his portfolio is diverse, ranging from private residential buildings to massive civic institutions, there are several recurring themes in his work. One of those themes relates to monuments and memorials: complex spaces of public memory which can elicit raw emotional responses – from celebration to loss.


Read the Q&A with Sir David Adjaye about the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History Culture, the overall winner of Beazley Designs of the Year 2017.

Sclera, the elliptical wooden outdoor pavilion commissioned by American Hardwood Export Council (AHEC) was located near the Thames during the London Design Festival 2008. Crafted from American tulipwood by Adjaye Associates, the Design Museum caught up with AHEC’s European Director, David Venables. to find out more about the structure.

Related events

Sir David Adjaye In Conversation

To mark the opening of his exhibition Making Memory, hear Sir David Adjaye discuss his work and interest in monuments and memorials, with architect and curator Nikolaus Hirsch.

BSL Tour - David Adjaye: Making Memory

Join this British Sign Language tour of the Design Museum’s current exhibition David Adjaye: Making Memory.

Multisensory Tour - David Adjaye: Making Memory

Join this Multisensory Tour of the Design Museum’s current exhibition David Adjaye: Making Memory, for blind and partially sighted visitors.

Background Image | MEMO, Adjaye Associates