Passion, purpose and pride. The architect designing a better nation
Home is more than just a roof overhead. It’s a place of safety, comfort and community. But South Africans living in underdeveloped areas aren’t prioritised and are denied amenities that they can take pride in. Mokena Makeka is an architect envisioning living spaces that do more than just meet people’s residential needs. He works alongside the government and community organisations to create spaces that, rather than demoralising the people who live there, uplift them instead.
After graduating with a Bachelor of Architecture with distinction from the University of Cape Town, Makeka was offered a scholarship to further his studies. He turned it down. Instead, he chose to follow his goal of changing lives by improving the spaces people live and work in. He founded Makeka Design Lab in 2002 – a move that has enabled him to become one of the most forward-thinking architects of his generation. Working with equally driven urban developers, Makeka has improved infrastructure and established commercial, residential, and community facilities in the Western Cape, creating job opportunities along the way. In the process of transforming public spaces, his design team has nabbed a number of awards, including a 2009 CIFA Merit Award for their design of a civic centre in Khayelitsha, and a 2011 Gold Loerie for their design of a SAPS railway police station.
Makeka’s contributions to South African urban design aren’t limited to his projects. As well as being an external examiner at the Columbia University School of Architecture, Makeka also lectures at the University of Cape Town, has advised the South African Minister of Human Settlements, and sits on the World Economic Forum Global Agenda Council for Design. By intertwining his passion with purpose while sharing his knowledge with young South Africans, Makeka is ensuring that more and more people can be proud of the places they call home.