Ola-Dele Kuku studied at the Southern Institute of Architecture in Los Angeles. His roots are in Nigeria, a country where he also lived for a relatively short period. He currently lives and works in Brussels.
Although he was trained as an architect, the word immediately arouses resistance, because he seriously questions the usefulness of architecture as generally practised. ‘Architecture isn’t anywhere near to being what it should be’, as he put it. In one of the many interviews on his work, he also commented: ‘Architecture has never been based itself on people. Building has always been something people did in defiance of a ‘superior being’ and based on the fear of a power far greater than themselves.’ So in his opinion there has hardly been any evolution in architecture. That is why he adheres to his standpoint that the architect should endeavour to push back the frontiers of his profession and constantly blaze new trails.
For him, functionality is not an immediate issue, nor is commercialism. Every object he has made is a specific
Study into how proportions work: try-outs on which he works for several years, with considerable perseverance and enthusiasm. He considers himself to be more of an artist in search of the use of emptiness. In the same way as a teacup can be used because of empty space, he wants to knead space and add structure to it; the creation of structure in a world of disorder. In other words, a journey along the border between a visible and an imaginary world.
The reasoning doesn’t seem very tangible. Yet Ola-dele Kuku has realised a number of remarkable objects within that framework, culminating in the ‘Opera Domestica’. Two Belgian companies – Lagae Hout from Kortrijk and de Noordboom from Ronse – were partly responsible for the coming about of that work. The objects in question have been carefully planned down to the last millimetre and appear to tell a story. They are unique pieces, marking the evolution in his ideas and actions. Ola-dele Kuku has given courses at the Milan Politecnico (Italy) and Delft University of Technology (Netherlands). He recently taught at the Tilburg Academy of Architecture (Netherlands). He has participated successfully in many international events and competitions. For instance, in 1995 he was awarded the Grand Prize/Prime Minister’s Prize during the IFI Nagoya International Design Competition and in 1997 he received the Public Prize in the VIZO’s Henry van de Velde contest.
Hans Fonk – Objekt nr. 16 – Hans Fonk Publications 2000