Mokena Makeka

MOKENA MAKEKA is the founder and principal of Makeka Design Lab. He pursued his studies at the University of Cape Town and graduated with distinction. Although he obtained a scholarship to further his studies, Mokena opted to form Makeka Design Lab and pursue his dream of changing the world through the spaces that people inhabit.

Since 2002, Makeka Design Lab has been guided by Mokena in designing innovative design solutions at the urban, architectural, cultural and installation scale. Mokena’s career highlight was being selected as one of the Ordos 100 architects. As one of only two African architects designing the project, Mokena felt privileged to represent not only a generation but the African continent.

In making strides in the architectural and urban design profession, Makeka has advised the South African Minister of Human Settlements, sat on the World Economic Forum Global Agenda Council for Design and is currently involved with the UIA 2014 Conference as a Scientific Committee member.

A proponent on well designed buildings as a human right, Mokena has spoken passionately at the SAIA Biennale Convention, Green Building conference, Decorex conversations on Architecture, TEDxStellenbosch, the Seminar of Social Innovation and Sustainability (Brasil) and the Public Design & Consumption Symposium (Brasil). His writings include contributions to the Sustainable Waters Handbook, Transport and Mobility Handbook (Alive2Green publications 2009), Counter Currents: Experiments in Sustainability in Cape Town (African Centre for Cities), in addition to numerous articles and papers on topics ranging across: sustainability, urban culture, transport and urban design, planning theory and African urbanism. Makeka also co writes ‘Men About Town’, a weekly column in the Cape Times.

Mokena and MDL have been the recipients of many awards, including the inaugural winner of the Gold Loerie Award for Communication Design in Architecture (2011) for the SAPS Retreat Station (an MDL design) and the CIA Merit Award for the Khayelitsha Multi Purpose Centre (2009). Mokena was also honoured with the 2010 Johnnie Walker Celebrating Strides Award for design.

He has served as a judge on the Plascon Prism Awards and sat on the FIFA 2010 World Cup Arts & Culture Task Team.

A keen educator, Mokena was also a 10114 AfricanCities lecturer at UCT and an external examiner and studio lecturer at Columbia University School of Architecture.

He serves on numerous boards, including the Isandla Institute, Bush Radio and the Cape Town Heritage Trust.

Mokena is the Founder of a ground breaking initiative MoDILA (The Museum of Design Innovation Leadership & Art, South Africa) set to be the premier Modern Art Museum in Africa.

His overriding belief? The power of design to better people’s lives in a subtle but profound manner through rigorous analysis, intellectual engagement with sustainability, human rights and heritage concerns.