January 6th, 2015

‘CNN Ones to Watch’ with British architect David Adjaye

“There’s no such thing as a perfect building”


  • Adjaye names Nigerian Kunlé Adeyemi and Vietnamese Vo Trong Nghia as his ‘Ones to Watch’
  • CNN programme also features world-renowned architect Daniel Libeskind

CNN International’s monthly programme ‘CNN Ones to Watch’ shines a light on up-and-coming creative talent set to be the next big names in culture and the arts.

In January, the show is dedicated to architecture, and is fronted by British architect

David Adjaye, the man behind the new Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture in the US.

Adjaye tells ‘CNN Ones to Watch’: “There are many buildings in the world that are great. And they’re great and they have their limits. I think what is very exciting is that there’s no such thing as a perfect building. It’s actually continually evolving, and I think that’s what’s really exciting.”

The show also receives insight from Daniel Libeskind, the world-renowned, New York-based architect who was chosen as master planner of the World Trade Center redevelopment after 9/11.

Libeskind tells the programme: “Architects are obsessed. Everything they see and do has to do with construction, and everything in our world is constructed… by 2050 I think 75 per cent of the world’s population will live in cities. So the cities cannot just build more boxes and more of the same.”

The two architects chosen by Adjaye are creating buildings for growing populations, taking into account the needs of the environment and sustainability. ‘CNN Ones to Watch’ travels to Africa, Europe, Vietnam and Singapore to meet emerging architects Kunlé Adeyemi and Vo Trong Nghia as they create and showcase their work throughout the episode.

Nigerian architect Kunlé Adeyemi shows ‘CNN Ones to Watch’ one of his major projects in the community of Makoko in Lagos, Nigeria, where he has focused on building on and around water. “Nearly 70 per cent of the world capital cities are by water. And with the impact of urbanisation, growth in these areas, merged with the issues of climate change, how do we develop these growing urbanisms around water?” Adeyemi asks.

Adjaye reveals why he feels Adeyemi’s work is important in Makoko, telling ‘CNN Ones to Watch’: “All the criticisms of shanty towns are valid, but what you can’t level against it is its ability to respond to a human condition which is to create habitation.”

‘CNN Ones to Watch’ travels with Vietnamese architect Vo Trong Nghia, as he is shortlisted for Building of the Year 2014 at the World Architecture Festival in Singapore. Adjaye tells the programme one of the reasons he picked Vo Trong Nghia: “Lots of people place trees around you, but he incorporates it into the DNA of the architecture. If you strip the nature out of his architecture, you strip the architecture.”

Vo Trong Nghia believes that bamboo is the steel of the 21st century: ‘”In a tropical country we have a lot of bamboo…it’s low cost, and if you use the bamboo you have a really elegant place that you cannot see by timber or steel or concrete.”


‘CNN Ones to Watch’ airs at the following times on CNN International

Friday 9 January at 1030 GMT/ 1130 CET and 1630 GMT/1730 CET

Saturday 10 January at 1430 GMT/ 1530 CET and 2030 GMT/ 2130 CET

Sunday 11 January at 0430 GMT/0530 CET

Monday 12 January at 0930 GMT/ 1030 CET

Tuesday 13 January at 1030 GMT/ 1130 CET and 1730 GMT/1830 CET

Wednesday 14 January at 0430 GMT/ 0530 CET


For more information, please contact:

Joel Brown
Senior Press Officer
CNN Europe, Middle East & Africa
Tel: + 44 (0) 20 7693 0967 / + 44 (0) 7967 293452