Shawn Adams: Wallpaper* Next Generation 2021

Our Next Generation 2021 showcase shines a light on 21 outstanding graduates from around the globe, Wallpaper’s pick of the best new talent in seven creative fields. Here, we profile Shawn Adams, graduate of Royal College of Art, London.

An electronic device made from e-waste, representing a material graveyard in Ghana.
(Image credit: TBC)

Shawn Adams is a man of many hats and talents. His graduation project for the master’s programme at the Royal College of Art explores informal relationships and, more specifically, how ‘young African men in Agbogbloshie come together to form a new way of life’. His design creates five spaces near the 20-acre material graveyard in Ghana, where African men – known as burner boys – try to extract the metals inside electronic devices.

The proposal comprises a total of 14 plinths and three canopies made from e-waste, which comments on both material and spatial uses. ‘I want to widen the remit of what architecture is,’ says Adams. ‘I want to challenge architectural canon and what is often perceived as relevant or influential design. This is one of the reasons I try to use writing as a platform to bring underrepresented stories and narrative to the forefront of discussions.’

The portrait of Shawn Adams in black & white.

(Image credit: TBC)

To that end, Adams co-founded the POoR Collective in 2019, a social enterprise that focuses on empowering and supporting young people to get their voice heard, working with community centres, built environment professionals and local authorities.

He is also a member of the second cohort of New Architecture Writers, a free programme for emerging BAME design critics. ‘I am interested in getting into other creative fields such as art, fashion and product design. I also want to explore writing, speaking and broadcasting, and would like to present design and architectural history documentaries,’ he says.

A closer, more detailed look at an electronic device made from e-waste, representing a material graveyard in Ghana.

(Image credit: TBC)

A colorful sketch representing Ghana.

(Image credit: TBC)

A painting of Ghana in green tones. The painting is dark and gritty.

(Image credit: TBC)

A sketch of Ghana. There are people on the surface that are taking old electronics from the ground.

(Image credit: TBC)

An aerial view of the ground being covered with old electronics.

(Image credit: TBC)

A sketch in color of the ground full of trash, with a recycling plan drawn on the sky.

(Image credit: TBC)

An electronic device made from e-waste, representing a material graveyard in Ghana.

(Image credit: TBC)

INFORMATION

2020.rca.ac.uk/shawn-adams (opens in new tab)

Ellie Stathaki is the Architecture Editor at Wallpaper*. She trained as an architect at the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki in Greece and studied architectural history at the Bartlett in London. Now an established journalist, she has been a member of the Wallpaper* team since 2006, visiting buildings across the globe and interviewing leading architects such as Tadao Ando and Rem Koolhaas. Ellie has also taken part in judging panels, moderated events, curated shows and contributed in books, such as The Contemporary House (Thames & Hudson, 2018) and Glenn Sestig Architecture Diary (2020).