Luyanda Mpahlwa

Role/Position: Adjunct Professor

Luyanda Mpahlwa is the director of DesignSpaceAfrica, a Cape Town-based architecture and design practice established in 2009.


Mpahlwa holds Masters in Architecture at the Technical University of Berlin. He was awarded an Honorary Doctorate in Science and Technology from the Walter Sisulu University for his contribution and critical thought on innovative technologies and design for social change.


His architectural education in South Africa was interrupted when he was incarcerated on Robben Island Prison in 1981 for his anti-apartheid political activities. After his release from a 5-year prison term in 1986, he went into exile in Germany, where he spent 15 years in Berlin.


He relocated back to South Africa in 2000 and established the Cape Town Studio of MMA Architects where he was Director/Partner for 12 years. He is a member of South African professional bodies: SACAP; SAIA; CiFA; and UDISA. Mpahlwa has received various accolades for his architectural work including the Award of Excellence, for the South African Embassy Building, Berlin from the South African Institute of Architecture; the first recipient of the USA based Curry Stone Design Prize in 2008 for the Sandbag 10×10 Design Indaba Low Cost House in Mitchells Plein, Cape Town.


He also served as a member of the Organising Committee’s Technical Team which provided oversight project management for the construction of all World Cup stadia for the 2010 Soccer World Cup in South Africa. In 2014 he was part of the bidding team for the Cape Town World Design Capital designation and was member of the interim board. From 2004-2008 he served in the UCT University Council, 2013 – 2020 served in the Council of Walter Sisulu University and 2010 – 2019 he served in the Council of Robben Island Museum. He is currently serving in the Council of the South African Heritage Resources Agency (SAHRA). He served as SAIA President 2018 – 2020 (South African Institute of Architects) and is a member of the SAIA Board.


He has participated in various Design Conferences including the Design Indaba in Cape Town, #Cocreate Design Conference, in 2011 the UN Exhibition, Design with the Other 90% in New York, contributed to the New York based publication Design Like You Give a Damn and various international publications. In 2013 he also participated in the Afritecture Exhibition at the Technical University of Munich, and 2016 the UN Habitat Forum in Berlin and exhibited his work at the 2016 Venice Architecture Biennale. He has been associated with the ACC work for quite some time, participating in the publication Counter Currents with Edgar Pieterse back in 2010, the Densification Syndicate and various public platforms.


Over the past few two years, Luyanda has developed a wide network of scholars and Architect colleagues through various conferences and lectures in the African Continent and beyond. He recently collaborated with an Author from Munich Germany, Klaus Doppler on the Book “Die Logik der Anderen” translated “The Logic of Others”, published by Campus Verlag in Dec 2020 in Germany. The English Edition in process for publication July 2021 in South Africa.