Germane Barnes: Ukhamba
Named after a type of African woven-wood basket, Ukhamba is a ten-foot-tall circular structure with four arched entrances, built of curved wooden elements stacked in horizontal layers. Its construction invites visitors to walk inside and congregate but allows the surrounding plaza and urban landscape to remain visible through the structure. Inspired by Barnes’s time working abroad in South Africa, as well as in Miami, Ukhamba not only responds to Miami’s sub-tropical climate but also unites architectural elements typical of diasporic communities of African and Caribbean origin. It comprises a pavilion that appears part basket, part traditional breeze wall.
Ukhamba is a space for reflection on our relationship to the built environment, urban design, its histories, and cultural memories. Barnes’s pavilion continues the artists’ exploration of themes of spatial identity, migration, the cultural influences of the African diaspora, and its contributions to classical architecture. Primarily using materials found in South Florida, the artist has focused on sustainability and has designed a structure in dialogue with the history and natural environment that surrounds it.
Born in Chicago, Germane Barnes received a Bachelor's of Science in Architecture from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and a Master of Architecture from Woodbury University, where he was awarded the Thesis Prize for his project Symbiotic Territories: Architectural Investigations of Race, Identity, and Community. Currently he is an Assistant Professor and the Director of The Community Housing & Identity Lab (CHIL) at the University of Miami School of Architecture, a testing ground for the physical and theoretical investigations of architecture’s social and political resiliency. His work has been featured in international institutions most notably, The Museum of Modern Art, San Francisco MoMA, LACMA, Chicago Architecture Biennial, MAS Context, The Graham Foundation, The New York Times, Architect Magazine, DesignMIAMI/Art Basel, Metropolis Magazine, Domus, Wallpaper* Magazine, and The National Museum of African American History, where he was identified as one of the future designers on the rise.
Barnes’ award-winning research and design practice investigates the connection between architecture and identity, examining architecture’s social and political agency through historical research and design speculation. Mining architecture’s social and political agency, he examines how the built environment influences Black domesticity.
Germane Barnes: Ukhamba is the second in a series of annual commissioned MOAD Pavilions, curated by Isabela Villanueva, MOAD Consulting Curator. The first, Rafael Domenech's Estuary [Pavilion for MOAD], opened at the MDC Wolfson Campus in November 2022 and was later reconfigured at the MDC Kendall Campus.
MOAD's programs are made possible with the support of the Miami-Dade County Department of Cultural Affairs and the Cultural Affairs Council, the Miami-Dade County Mayor and Board of County Commissioners. They are sponsored in part by the State of Florida, Department of State, Division of Arts and Culture, the Florida Council on Arts and Culture, and the National Endowment for the Arts.