Every Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday morning, I leave my house on Osbaldeston Road in Stoke Newington N16, turn right, then left down Casenove Road, past the Rabbi School and the Gujarati Muslim Centre, past the bearded Hassidic patriarchs, heads bent in conversation, past the Muslim youth talking about the new Nokia 770 to Stoke Newington High Street, where I enter the empty station, descend the stairs to take the 9:15am overground train to Whitechapel. I exit right, walk under the tunnel, bear right across the concrete playground with the red diagonal sculptures, and keep going until I reach Whitechapel High Street.

There I turn right again and enter Whitechapel tube; bound for platform 5 East London Line to New Cross for Goldsmiths College. This route, by sheer luck, has allowed me to witness the inauguration of David Adjaye’s Whitechapel Idea Store. For a long while, I became a human steadicam, staring at the partial volume of the West façade, the laminated green and blue glass panels that picked up, amplified, and projected the striped canopies of the High Street market stalls. Over time it became clear that the Idea Store was, and is, a very peculiar building; in fact it was nothing less than a new building type for London, a five storey block of libraries and classrooms, a crèche, a dance studio, and a cafe whose nearest relative might be Toyo Ito’s Mediatheque in Sendai, Japan.


What struck me, and what continues to provoke, was how quickly this new structure infiltrated itself into the Muslim vernacular of High Street. David Adjaye had designed an event that could contribute to the defiantly parochial complexity of everyday life. Adjaye’s singularity lies here: in creating spaces that allow for an engagement with the sociality of the urban, his buildings do not repair or rescue or regenerate publicness; rather, they find ways to infiltrate the condition of publicness with potentiality.

www.adjaye.com, www.ideastore.co.uk


Kodwo Eshun

Kodwo Eshun is a British writer and theorist. He is currently the course leader of the MA in Aural and Visual Cultures at Goldsmiths College, London.

Architecture 37London 9
David Adjaye
Features 103

Published in

Issue #11 — Summer 2006Europe Endless: The Propaganda Campaign for an Old New Continent

We began work on this issue with a simple question in mind: why is there so much more euphoria for Europe at the periphery, in the new and aspiring EU member states, than in the center?  “From now on, the EU will be bold, explicit, popular,” states REM KOOLHAAS in our cover story on EUROPE ENDLESS. Foreign-policy thinker MARK LEONARD discusses how the European Union is as convincing an answer in the 20th century to globalization as it was to the problem of war in the 20th; AMO/OMA present a 28-page fold-out, graphic history of Europe since 1946;

writer NAVID KERMANI discovers the continent’s enthusiasm at its farthest edges; historian TONY JUDT tells how the West was an accident; writer KODWO ESHUN and photographer JUERGEN TELLER portray architect DAVID ADJAYE; artist collective SLAVS & TATARS redeem the East in Eastern Europe; artist / musician LINDER STERLING makes irony yield to the mythic again; artist MATTHEW BARNEY explores the sexual transmission between man and machine; writer DIETMAR DATH provokes the culture industry’s center with drastic arts;

art critic HARALD FRICKE on artist MARC BRANDENBURG’s dark power of signs; 1970s band THROBBING GRISTLE inaugurates both the beginning and end of pop; photographer TODD EBERLE exposes his Berlin diary;

the BERLIN REVIEW reflects on nine events, projects, and people from the last six months in the great cultural laboratory; and so much more on 192 pages …

Contributors: AMO/OMA, Jens Balzer, Jodie Barnes, Matthew Barney, Marc Brandenburg, Roger Deckker, Todd Eberle, Kodwo Eshun, Jason Evans, Eleanor Freiberger, Harald Fricke, Martin Germann, Akiko Hamaoka, Estelle Hanania, Oliver Helbig, David Hughes, Navid Kermani, Emily King, Andrian Kreye, Mark Leonard, Aram Lintzel, Niklas Maak, Michael Mann, Lucy McKenzie, Alasdair McLellan, Ingo Niermann, Peter Philips, Sebastian Preuss, Nancy Rhode, Peter Richter, Robi Rodriguez, Tasxmara Rothstein, Matt Saunders, Nigel Shafran, Payam Sharifi & Kasia Korczak, Hedi Slimane, Juergen Teller