Teaching : Methods, Fields and Archives 

Designed and produced by GSA students (2019): Karabo Moumakwe, Gloria Pavita, Thelma Ndebele, Azraa Gabru, Sarah Harding, Jackson Chanje, Izak Potgieter, Jana Crous.

My research and teaching interests are in marginalized architectures, design cultures and planning histories, centered on the global south, alongside critical race studies and postcolonial theories. This interest extends from formal design disciplines to the everyday and ordinary ecologies of urban environments created by users. I have developed courses in both design, and history and theory in the various roles I have held, all of which foreground questions of recognising overlooked spatial practices and archives, for building and developing more just futures. In research-led teaching, this has taken the form of seminar and lecture series including a key focus on Architecture + Migration. This focus becomes a means to draw in globally diverse geographies to the teaching space, and ask students to think through entangled migrant architectures- through ideas, spaces and materials which travel -  alongside various forms of migrant bodies who inhabit architectures and urban worlds in different ways. I have taught related courses at 3rd year and MArch dissertation level where students have taken on the thematic with enthusiasm and exceptional dissertations. In these courses, the curriculum deliberately draws marginalised and diverse voices and positions into the seminar spaces through readings, podcasts and film, to create an inclusive and supportive environment for students to share their interests and concerns. This is essential to my pedagogical approach to enable and foster a harmonious and supportive environment for students, regardless of their background or orientation.

In the past 2 years, I have developed a set of course which expands this to focus on Watery Archives and Watery Methods for 3rd year and MArch level respectively. These courses similarly draw on postcolonial and decolonial theories, alongside oceanic humanities to look at coastal sites, port cities, architecture built for water, and various forms of water infrastructures as central to how urban environments are structured. This is also a provocation to think through the longer histories of current crises of water shortages, devastating global floods and creeping sea level-rise, and to question the role of the built environment as inherently interconnected with these conditions. Architecture and urban sites are not isolated from the wider built environment, climate and ecological conditions, and this course asks students to engage with these concerns as related.

Watery Methods/ Watery Archives (2022/ 23, 2023/24)

This BA3 architectural humanities elective draws on the wider framework of oceanic humanities, to ask how centring seas, oceans, estuaries and rivers, among other bodies of water, might open up new approaches, questions and perspectives on how we study, understand and ultimately design with and for watery landscapes. Oceanic viewpoints ask us to look beyond points of origin, drawing on Edouard Glissant, to archipelagic and entangled relationships across time and space, surface and depth. Movement across water has been key to trade and commerce, resulting in risky, fruitful and dangerous encounters: from the oceanic catastrophes of the Atlantic slave trade to early global empires in the Swahili seas. Urban waterways have been tools of extraction and sites of leisure. Managing water through floodplains, land reclamation initiatives, and the construction of dams, ports and canals have been central to modernisation and development projects globally. In our current context, thinking with water raises urgent questions around devastating floods, creeping sea- level rise, and the increasing vulnerability of coastal communities. This elective looks at a range of urban, infrastructural, and architectural sites globally, and associated archives. We ask how design builds, adapts and responds to watery bodies. We will question ways and means of representing and writing histories of built environments, of and with water, and engage with the work of designers, writers, activists and film-makers who strive to tell deep and near oceanic and watery futures of the built environment. Guest lecturers include Thomas Aquilina, Aaniyah Martin and Dr. Menna Agha. 

BA3 2023: Deekshita Viju Nair (Manchester School of Architecture, University of Manchester) received the John H.G. Archer Humanities prize; and Design History Society prize for her essay: Watery Archives: Panama Canal construction, which critically assesses photographic archives as a means of investigating the marginalisation, exclusion and silencing of black female labour in the construction of the canal.

Architecture and Migration (2021/22, 2022/23, 2023/24)

Manchester School of Architecture

This dissertation level courses investigates the relationship between architecture and migration, from the conceptual starting point of entanglement - as the condition of being entwined or twisted together, establishing a spatial intimacy accross vast geographies. Thinking and working through entanglement argues for a relational architectural and spatial reading, which recognises how our spatial thinking is informed by a multiplicity of people, places and temporalities. We recognise that migration and mobility may at times be a choice, yet at other times is resisted, uninvited and unchosen. The dissertation seminars focus on theoretical and historical texts which engage with spatial and material conditions of architecture's relationship to migration, exile, trans-national spatial networks, power relations embedded in space and the archive, sites of refuge and displacement. Architecture is understood broadly in relation to wider spatial practices, a discplinary framework, and varied forms of inhabitation. 

2022: Mohsin Ali received a commendation for RIBA Dissertation medal for the dissertation: Mapping Migrant Trajectories - A study of South Asian Diasporas along the Bradford High Street.


Architectural History and Theory at the GSA: Methods, Fields, Archives (2019; 2020)

Graduate School of Architecture, University of Johannesburg 

In developing a history and theory course at the GSA, the impetus was to question both what architectural history might be in terms of content, and also how it might enable us to think and theorise architecture differently. Contesting the prefiguration of distinctions between methods, fields and archives, the course suggested bringing these into conversation to understand their entangled nature. While the field remains a site for gathering data on the “other,” the archive is often treated as a siloed, sacred and western source of knowledge. In foregrounding the decolonial focus on both praxis and content,16 the course questions the existing canon of the architect-architecture-architectural, by looking to the margins and edges of architecture as a discipline. This full year 'methods' course aimed to offer students the skills and toolkit to engage with varied methods, fields and archives, understanding these as necessarily interrlated when writing an architectural history from the site of Johannesburg. The course drew on architectural history, theory and wider visual cultures, with the second semester dedicated to an individual written dissertation.

The students were also collectively tasked and supported with producing a publication for the end of year exhibition. In 2019, this took the form of a zine which collectively mapped out the work of the cohort (image above); in 2020, with the Covid-19 pandemic this took the form of a digital sonic zine of the year's work on IG: https://www.instagram.com/kota_vol.2_2020/

Worlds of Architectural History (2021)

University of Cape Town

This first year architectural history and theory course re-presented a global survey of architectural history by restructuring the course into two parallel streams. The first followed a global survey of architectural history since 1400, drawing out key sites around the world; in parallel students were invited to engage with methodologies of architectural history, through theoretical texts along with wider materials from outside of architecture, drawn out in relation to the material discussed for the week. Each week took on a different historical methodology, which promopted a critical engagement with the assumed narrative within the global survey, pointing to alternative histories, approaches and enabling the students with critical tools to ask how this impacts ways of seeing and reading built environments. 

Portrait of a City, Cape Town (2021)

University of Cape Town

Portrait of a City (13 - 20 August 2021) was an online film workshop with architecture students from the University of East London, London, UK and the University of Cape Town, Cape Town, South Africa. The students explored narratives of their respective cities through visual and sonic samplings of the urban environment,  borrowing methods of surrealist urban practices (psychogeographical games such as exquisite corpse and the Derive) to undertake playful and coincidental encounters. The films reveal new ways of seeing, interpreting and reading the world, cataloguing shared, contrasting and emerging urban themes and phenomena. The workshop was led by Dr. Huda Tayob (UCT) and Reem Charif (UEL) with studio staff from both schools.

Homemade prototypes - deconstructing domestic decorum, Zahraa Essa, 2020

GSA Unit 18 Hyperreal prototypes (2020) - Spectral Hauntings

Graduate School of Architecture, University of Johannesburg

Co-led with Sarah de Villiers in 2020. In 2020, Unit 18 took on the haunting presence of power through the Institute of Hyperreal Prototypes. In the age of the 4thIndustrial Revolution, things are moving faster than ever. Political dissent, wars and economic crashes rise and fall with the same planetary crunching of time and space, across media and image, as fast as a new hairstyle emerges from Beyoncé. This post-modern, late-capitalist, post-colonial, and neo-colonial world represses and projects its ghosts and phantoms with similar intensities, if not entirely in the same forms as the older worlds did. We live with the horrors and nightmares of past-violences, struggles for liberation, dreams of freedom and hopes of future worlds yet to come (Gordon 2008). The hyperreal and supernatural is indistinguishable from the real and authentic. Artificial Intelligence has infiltrated every semblance of our life: we are all cyborgs, all part-human, all reliant on robotic and prosthetic parts (Haraway 1985).

Egypt continues to haunt architectural production in the replicas of pyramids, sphinxes and obelisks -- transported and rebuilt worldwide. Looking at both very old, and rapidly emerging phenomena, we will explore the spaces of the Arab Spring, Valley of the Gods, histories of paper and writing, the Rosetta Stone, Suez Canal, Silk Road and New Silk Road, Cairo and New Cairo, Library of Alexandria, Genizah documents and Fustat. Our research will focus on the haunting presence of the supernatural in its otherworldly, digital, analogue dusty and ghostly forms. The unit is interested in an architecture that responds to the deep-pasts of haunted histories and, importantly a cognizance of planetary futures, drawing on the ambiguous and murky line between man-made and natural (Haraway 1985). 

The project will be a Hyperreal Prototype: a building, typology, process, policy or set of events which institutionalise or will into being a widely-held perception and emergent spatial practice of replication or hauntings as powerful architectural forces. We will use the prototype as a research methodology: a device that is sited between the real, surreal, authentic, model and copy. We encourage time-based representational techniques, large-scale model-making and engagement with the ‘super’, ‘hyper’ and ‘natural’. As Avery Gordon suggests, “we need to know where we live in order to imagine living elsewhere. We need to imagine living elsewhere before we can live there” (Avery Gordon 2008, 5). In 2021, Unit 18 was led by Sarah de Villiers and Naadia Patel; Unit 18 book designed by Naadira Patel and Sarah de Villiers. 

Course briefs in 2020: Future remnants - Phantom Limb; Sewing Borders; Gravity Fatigue; Strange Fruit; Interview with a City; Ghostly Matters; Recipe for an Atmopshere. 

Mapping Filipino Migrant Homes, Maria Patricia Castelo, 2019

Entangled Architectures (2017- 2018; 2018 - 2019)

Bartlett School of Architecture, UCL

Entangled Architectures is a 3rd year seminar course taught for two consecutive years at the Bartlett, which asked students to work through entangled spatial histories and archives. Students were invited to engage with the 'poetics of relation' drawing on Edouard Glissant, to think through material, spatial, architectural and urban networks accross geographies and temporalities. Each of the seminars starts with a distinct scale and seemingly stable spatiality to explore the concept of entanglement, namely: Arriving and Departing; the Home; the Camp; the City; the Informal settlement. Each week also centes a form of spatial representation and technology, ranging from drawing to graphic novels, literature, photography and film alongside theoretical and historical texts that togethe enable a deep and critical reading of entangled spatialities. 

Prints by Fred Swart

Race, Space & Architecture: Towards an Open Access curriculum (2018 - )

With Dr. Thandi Loewenson (RCA), Prof. Suzanne Hall (LSE)

Race, Space and Architecture (racespacearchitecture.org) is an ongoing web-based project with Prof. Suzanne Hall (LSE) and Thandi Loewenson (RCA) which began in 2018. This project argues that race-making and space-making are intrinsically entangled and argues for the importance of polyvocality and trans-disciplinarity in architecture and design education, in order to attend to archival silences and absences. Importantly, this project is a curriculum and resource that makes available a set of materials, maps out wider similar projects and invites in extended engagements and ‘soundings’ which students are encouraged to add and share to. It has been exceptionally positively received by students globally since its inception, beyond our initial expectations, and is in many ways a project that has become a form of infrastructure for students to both access and contribute to building knowledge on the built environment. Soundings also available on Spotify.

Additional teaching experience includes: 1st and 3rd year undergraduate architecture teaching at University of East London (UK) (2015 - 2018); Contextual Studies dissertation teaching at the University of Hertfordshire (2016); BSC Architecture and Interdisciplinary Studies at the Bartlett School of Architecture, 2nd year (2018- 2019); 2nd year History and Theory of Architecture at the Bartlett School of Architecture (2017 - 2019); 1st year coordination of History and Theory at the Bartlett School of Architecture, UCL (2017 - 2019); MPhil supervision for Southern Urbanism at the African Centre for Cities, University of Cape Town (2022 - 2023); UCT Y1 studio teaching (2021).