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Adjaye launches Africa Centre rescue plan

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Architect David Adjaye has unveiled £6 million plans for the redesign of Covent Garden’s Africa Centre - however the venue still faces an uncertain future

Hadeel Ibrahim, daughter of the Sudanese mobile phone millionaire Mo Ibrahim, has started a campaign to save the grade II-listed Covent Garden building. Yet the £3.6 million pledge is still some way short of the £12 million needed for the venue.

Since the centre was opened by Kenneth Kaunda, first president of Zambia, in 1964 it has played host to luminaries like Desmond Tutu and writer Alice Walker.

But the centre’s trustees want a fresh start somewhere cheaper to maintain and plan to sell the Grade II-listed building which occupies a prime site at the edge of Covent Garden market.

Adjaye’s alternative proposals for the exisitng building would create spaces for art exhibitions, club rooms and film screenings. He said it was the type of building that should have a blue plaque. ‘It has been very important to my generation and the generation before me,’ said Adjaye who was born in Tanzania.

He is proposing a complete restoration of the Grade II-listed building, including opening up unused space.

‘It really is a big building but most people only know the ground floor,’ he said. ‘There is a fantastic basement, which is under-utilised, and fantastic spaces up above, which need to be refurbished.’

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