See all the winners of the 2020 Studio Prize.

Studio Brief | This studio takes Johannesburg, South Africa’s ignominious history as a provocation to explore—through mapping and technical and narrative representation—the spatial and social implications of an extractive terrain. Using drawing as a medium for conceptual and critical inquiry resulted in proposals for a speculative, ethical future for the city’s landscape.

Investigation | This six-week-long studio at Carleton University in Ottawa, Canada, comprised 16 second-year M.Arch. students from architecture, urbanism, and conservation. (It was the first of a pair of Spring 2020 classes, and was completed just prior to the onset of COVID-19.) While the constrained timeline of the studio did not allow for a field trip, associate professor Ozayr Saloojee, who was raised in Johannesburg as part of a family involved in the anti-apartheid movement, provided a direct connection to the site and topic.

The course consisted of three projects, each of which asked questions about labor, privilege, wealth, and how these concepts can be investigated through both the ground that we walk on and the architecture that sits on it. “They started with standard maps to situate the project,” Saloojee says, noting that he wanted the students to wrestle with the geopolitical landscape through these documents. “I wanted to engage questions of spatial politics and to encourage the students to think about the spatial implications and possibilities of the things that they do and the drawings we make.”

The second project, Machine Atlas, was modeled on architect Theo Deutinger’s Handbook of Tyranny (Lars Müller Publishers, 2018), which the studio hacked to specifically explicate the tools necessary for extraction landscapes. In a nod to popular culture, Trevor Noah of “The Daily Show” (perhaps one of this generation’s best-known South Africans) was used as a scale figure in each student’s atlas. “They produced these wonderful diagrams reflecting on the agency of physical tools,” Saloojee says. The final collection of 240 items included both physical tools like backhoes, excavators, drilling rigs, and nonphysical tools like judicial decrees, copyrights on colors, banks, banking logos, and vaults.

The final project required each student to develop a micro-narrative and a single building depicted through a deep section drawing. “I wanted them to situate the world they wanted to explore in a post-apartheid future,” Saloojee says.

“The output is stunning,” said Jonathan Tate—a sentiment shared by all the jurors. “I was impressed by the use of mapping techniques to demonstrate invisible infrastructures,” Weihan Vivian Lee added. “It was fascinating to see the sheer scale and magnitude of things being extracted out of this place without the knowledge of most people who live there,” Victor Body-Lawson said.

Student Work |

Machine Atlas | Students worked together to develop a studio-wide “machine atlas,” or what the project description terms “a critical compilation of tools, systems, and infrastructures deployed in service of mobilizing (and moving) the earth.” For each entry submitted to the atlas, students were encouraged to draw connections between the item or tool and larger systemic influences in the region (entries from Camille Ringrose, Vedad Haghighi, and Shannon Clark are shown above). The final 240-item directory was used as source material for students’ final projects.

The Map Is Not the Territory | The first project in this studio was to research Johannesburg’s geological, racial, and social history, and to propose a triptych of maps based on those findings­—maps that were inspired by geological drawings and filtered through the students’ own conceptual framework. In this triptych, Sally El Sayed explores Johannesburg’s natural, subdivisional, and racial divides.

Mine / Deep Dust / The Killing Dark |  For their final project, students developed an architectural response to the studio’s provocations—a single drawing for an architectural mining intervention on a site of their choosing (Joel Tremblay’s drawing is shown at right, and Camille Ringrose’s is shown opposite). Students were tasked with considering how their interventions could encourage what the project description cites as “a critical, interpretive and speculative re-reading of architecture’s role … as an emancipatory tool in a contested landscape.”

Studio Credits
Course: Deep Dust | The Killing Dark
School: Carleton University, Azrieli School of Architecture and Urbanism, Ottawa, Canada
Level: M.Arch. graduate options studio
Duration: Six weeks, Spring 2020
Instructor: Ozayr Saloojee (associate professor)
Students: Camille Ringrose, Angela Chiesa, Kristen Oyama, Sally El Sayed, Joel Tremblay, Shannon Clark, Vedad Haghighi, Stéphanie Chrétien, Nicholas Bava, Adrian Hong (submitted work); Tasia Craig, Robin Hoytema, Freed Gomes, Walter Fu, Michael Jaworski