Kiluanji Kia Henda

Kiluanji Kia Henda’s (b. 1979, Luanda) work engages with the colonial past of Angola and the African continent in a humorous and ironic way, challenging notions of identity, politics and the perceptions of post-colonialism and modernism in Africa. The project Henda has developed for Plymouth relates to notions of entropy and the gradual process of desertification. He is interested in the context of the Civic Centre, and architect Hector Stirling’s original ‘utopian’ vision for the city centre. Henda’s experience of architecture in Luanda, and the Soviet vision of the future in Angola that never came to fruition, relates to the post-war civic architecture in Plymouth, and the narrative of a brave new world that it projects but is no more.

Civic Centre As part of the post-war plans to rebuild the city, Plymouth's Civic Centre was designed by city architect Hector Stirling in the International modernist style and was opened by the Queen on 26 July 1962. It is a fourteen-storey concrete and glass tower block, with a 'butterfly' roof canopy and an attached two-storey block to the north. The tower housed the offices of the various municipal departments of the city council, as Plymouth’s main administrative centre. The top storey was originally the Rooftop Restaurant, which was open to the public, but closed in 1975. By the 21st century the city council felt it was too expensive to maintain though. Plans to demolish the building were scrapped when the building became Grade II Listed in June 2007. It was eventually sold to the developers Urban Splash in 2015 for one pound, who plan to refurbish the building.