18:00 SAST

18:00  SAST


Phantom Cartographies

Unit 21 works within and around the fields of architecture, landscape, culture and storytelling. Employing tactics around narrative, imagination, intuition and speculation, students are challenged to pursue a central research question through rigorous design-research methodologies to reveal multiple realities and perceptions of how we cohabit the earth. Students are encouraged to develop individual approaches in which the actions of reading, thinking and making are inextricable ingredients of our design research, aimed at creating distinctive, courageous and sometimes surprising propositions that challenge (and
potentially reframe) the conventions associated with architectural storytelling typologies where knowledge (tangible and intangible) is archived and/or disseminated.

Our research explores the increasingly blurred boundaries that has historically defined the fields of narrative space-making, and seeks out new mediums, processes and sites where architects can work with intent and purpose. By imagining more explorative approaches to architectural practice, and introducing multiple voices into this process, we seek new, relevant, inclusive, progressive methods and outcomes that acknowledge and enable the preservation, conservation, adaptation and evolution of myriad cultural pluralities present in post-colonial South Africa.

Semester One will be structured around a series of short exploratory briefs, aimed at enticing and nurturing each student’s interest and representational methodology and challenging students to engage with and interrogate conventional language and terminology associated with architecture and narrative.

The first quarter will include a week-long field trip to the Northern Cape, chosen specifically for its rich archaeological landscape of cultural confluences, conflicts and contradictions. This landscape is home to the (in)famous open cast diamond mine, the ‘Big Hole’ in the heart of Kimberley, the mythical dolomitic sinkhole known as ‘Boesmansgat, ‘the ancient rock art site of Wildebeeskuil and Wonderwerk cave, home of the earliest known record of human-controlled fire. Our journey to this landscape of marks and maps will be hosted by local archaeologist and anthropologist, Dr David Morris, of Kimberley’s McGregor Museum.

In the second quarter, the Unit’s gaze will shift focus from the distant Northern Cape landscape to that of the urban, and the Paul Kruger Street Synagogue (currently in a state of neglect and disrepair) famous for its role as a converted courthouse for the Rivonia Trial (in which apartheid struggle veterans including Nelson Mandela, were sentenced).

This urban study will be supported by a series of short visits to well known site-specific narrative museums, including Hector Pieterson Memorial Museum and Mandela House in Soweto, memorial sites such as Freedom Park and the Voortrekker Monument and significant cultural collections (such as the Mapungubwe gold, bead and ceramics archive, a collection of
engraved rocks at the Origins Centre and Rock Art Research Institute and the ancient hominin specimens of the WitsPalaeo-anthopology unit).

The second semester will focus on the development of major design projects in which notions of ‘museum’ and ‘artefact’ as narrative devices will be interrogated, challenged and developed. Students will be expected to deliver a spatial architectural proposition using a methodology of atlasing (speculative readings, recordings, translations and re-framings) the landscapes in which their site(s) are located.

Craig McClenaghan
Unit Leader
Craig McClenaghan is a Johannesburg-based architect, exhibition designer, artist and educator, with a particular interest in ‘cultural narrative’. In 2016, he formally established his eponymous award-winning studio, CMA, an exploratory multi-disciplinary design platform that engages with researchers, writers, artists, curators, teachers and students.

Ruby Mungoshi
Unit Tutor
Ruby Mungoshi is a professional architect. She is a GSA graduate with a mini-dissertation titled ‘The Ministry of Acculturation, Seduction and Sedition’, which won a regional Corobrik award. Her interests centre on investigations of the construction of beauty as a tool for seduction and understanding identity, race, power and gender.

Azraa Gabru
Unit Assistant
Azraa Gabru is a candidate architect. She is a Unit 14 alum and assisted Unit 13 in 2021. Azraa lectures in Interdisciplinary Design and Presentation at the Department of Architecture at UJ and works at LINEWORK Drawing Workshop. She has an interest in the spatial implications of cultural and religious principles as well as how architectural representation can reveal alternative narratives.


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