Close to the Edge: The Birth of Hip-Hop Architecture, an exhibition showcasing the works of 34 pioneers will debut at the Museum of Design Atlanta (MODA) October 15 through January 29.

Hip-hop was established by the Black and Latino youth of New York’s South Bronx neighborhood in the early 1970s. Over the last five decades, hip-hop’s primary means of expression—deejaying, emceeing, b-boying and graffiti—have become globally recognized creative practices in their own right, and each has significantly impacted the urban environment.

Hip-hop architecture’s designers produce spaces, buildings and environments that translate hip-hop’s energy and spirit into built form. Now three decades in the making, Hip-hop architecture is finally receiving widespread attention within the discipline of architecture thanks to years of dedication to its principles by practitioners such as Sara Zewde, Ujijji Davis, James Garrett Jr., Craig L. Wilkins and this show’s curator, Sekou Cooke. 

The exhibition includes work by 34 participants representing seven countries, with projects ranging across a variety of media and forms of expression, including façade studies, building designs and urban development proposals. In aggregate, these projects reveal a collective vision for alternative forms of expression and pratice and serve to formalize work created over the past 30 years into an emerging canon of Hip-Hop Architecture.

Projects featured in the exhibition include:

  • Work from There Are No Blank Sheets of Paper by Amanda Williams, in which she questions how violence informs the use, appropriation and design of urban spaces
  • Shanty Megastructures, a 2015 speculative and Afrofuturist architectural intervention imagined for Lagos, Nigeria by Olalekan Jeyifous
  • Lauren Halsey’s 2018 Crenshaw District Hieroglyphic Project, a monument to South Central Los Angeles’s communities.