DECO SHORT­LIST

An award-win­ning ar­chi­tect and founder of HKA | Her­mann Kamte & As­so­ci­ates, Kamte de­scribes him­self as ‘a funny and amaz­ing guy’ with a ter­ri­ble singing voice

Elle Decoration (South Africa) - - CONTENTS - @her­man­n_kamte her­mann-kamte.com

Cameroo­nian ar­chi­tect Her­mann Kamte on his favourite things

At only 26 years old, Kamte al­ready has a string of ac­co­lades to his name, in­clud­ing re­ceiv­ing a WAFX Prize in 2017 at the World Ar­chi­tec­ture Fes­ti­val for his La­gos’ Wooden Tower and be­ing cho­sen to speak at Ar­chi­tec­ture ZA in Pre­to­ria this year. But for the young en­tre­pre­neur, it’s not about the pres­tige, but what his work can do to make the world a bet­ter place.

‘Be­ing able to of­fer a ser­vice to the com­mu­nity is what drives my pas­sion for ar­chi­tec­ture,’ he says, adding that grow­ing up in Cameroon made him re­alise that he needed to work to im­prove Africa’s fu­ture. ‘For too long, Africa has solved its prob­lems in a state of emer­gency and we know to­day that this does not work. I be­lieve in pre­ven­ta­tive ar­chi­tec­ture: we no longer want spon­ta­neous cities, but adap­tive ones that an­tic­i­pate our needs by pro­vid­ing max­i­mum com­fort with min­i­mum dam­age to the en­vi­ron­ment. We want smart cities.’

After earn­ing his Mas­ters in Ar­chi­tec­ture with distinc­tion at EAMAU in Togo in 2016, Kamte set up HKA in Yaoundé, Cameroon, the fol­low­ing year. ‘I like to create projects that are more beau­ti­ful, cre­ative, in­no­va­tive, sus­tain­able, eco­log­i­cal and smarter than be­fore,’ he says. ‘My aim is to give African ar­chi­tec­ture back its magic – I want to make peo­ple smile, I want to make peo­ple happy,

I want to make peo­ple dream!’

1. Wood This is my favourite ma­te­rial to work with and I con­sider it to be the fin­ger­print of Mother Na­ture in ar­ti­fi­cial build­ings. As an al­ter­na­tive to un­sus­tain­able build­ing ma­te­ri­als, wood has a great role to play in shap­ing a bet­ter world, af­ford­able hous­ing and a greater qual­ity of life.

2. Imhotep, Con­fu­cius and Steve Jobs These would be my dream din­ner-party guests, as well as Leonardo da Vinci, Mozart, Sun Tzu and Beethoven. I would in­vite all the great in­ven­tors, philoso­phers and thinkers of past ages to dine with the young gen­er­a­tion of our time and speak about cre­ativ­ity, life and lead­er­ship.

3. The Na­tional Mu­seum of Togo, Lome The first time I vis­ited this mu­seum as a stu­dent, I was over­come with emo­tion.

It’s a beau­ti­ful space with a small col­lec­tion and a pow­er­ful mes­sage, and I chose it as my case study for my Bach­e­lors de­gree.

4. La­gos’ Wooden Tower Al­though this is con­sid­ered to be my most fa­mous project, I am no more proud of it than any of my oth­ers. I love all my cre­ations with the same in­ten­sity be­cause they are part of me, and each was born in re­sponse to a very spe­cific chal­lenge and of­fers a unique so­lu­tion.

5. Na­tional Geo­graphic’s Me­gas­truc­tures I re­mem­ber watch­ing this TV show as a child and loved see­ing what man could do with some sand, peb­bles and a lit­tle bit of in­ge­nu­ity. It helped fuel my dream of be­com­ing an ar­chi­tect one day.

6. Yaoundé, Cameroon This is my home and where my firm is. Ev­ery­thing seems pos­si­ble for me here. Even though I travel ex­ten­sively and con­sider my­self a cit­i­zen of the world, in Yaoundé, I get a strong feel­ing that I’ve never ex­pe­ri­enced any­where else.

7. My Cameroo­nian her­itage Her­itage is of great im­por­tance to me and I’m known for in­clud­ing cul­tural touches in all my work. I be­lieve in the power of ar­chi­tec­ture to give value to our cul­tural her­itage across the world. Ev­ery place has a story to tell, and it is the job of the ar­chi­tect to in­ter­pret and con­vey this to so­ci­ety. In this way, I be­lieve that ar­chi­tects are cre­ators of cul­ture.

(from top) Lips bench by HKA; La­gos’ Wooden Tower; Yaoundé’s Town Hall; Pyra­mid of Djoser in Egypt de­signed by Imhotep; statue of Con­fu­cius in Thai­land.

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