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Matri-Archi(tecture)

Matri-Archi(tecture) is an intersectional collective that empowers African women as a network dedicated to African-built development and spatial education. They action their ethos through their research unit and forthcoming spatial education program, focusing on transformation in partnership with spatial practitioners. Through their projects, they contribute to a pool of knowledge that aims at catalyzing and fostering dialogue and a consciousness in spatiality across Global Southern geographies. Their work emphasizes more inclusive paths for ongoing processes of alteration, transformation, and diversity. This has manifested through different mediums and scales as well as across different channels. Notable projects include exhibiting at the Africa Summit in Sankt Gallen, Switzerland (2018); a collaborative photography documentary project with Nairobi Design Week in Nairobi, Kenya (2019); an ongoing research project on urban nomads in Johannesburg, South Africa (2019 -); and one of many guest lectures including a recent talk in the series arquiteturas do sul global at Escola da Cidade in São Paulo, Brazil (2020). Matri-Archi(tecture) is co-directed by Khensani de Klerk and Solange Mbanefo.
Solange Mbanefo is a practicing architect with a BIM post-master’s specialization. As a multicultural scholar-explorer, she is passionate about developing self-sufficient spatial solutions. She is fluent in English, French, Italian, Portuguese, and Spanish, while currently perfecting her German.
Khensani de Klerk is an architectural designer and planner from Johannesburg. She centers practicing intersectionality through research and practice. She is finalizing an MPhil in Architecture and Urban Design at the University of Cambridge focusing on safe space.
Tapiwa Manase is an ar(tist)chitect who believes in multidisciplinary collaboration, community-based design, and holistic approaches that adapt to climate, socio-cultural heritage, and local identity toward informing positive perceptions.
Tshego Mako is an interior and architectural designer who is currently enrolled in a Master of Science degree at Politecnico di Milano. At the core of her approach is expressive, creative, and social design.

Reflecting our (Global) South Side

Venue: 63rd Street

As an intersectional collective, Matri-Archi(tecture) uses research and spatial education rooted in the African continent to design spaces and evoke architectural discourses that reflect and archive overlooked cultures. Matri-Archi believes that such cultures can inform spatial environments through everyday practices of routine, occupation, gathering, and negotiation. Reflecting our (Global) South Side offers a space to house everyday interactions and to explore how occupation and reflection can facilitate learning about other cultures. 

To foster a cultural-spatial dialogue, the design is temporal, dynamic, and reflective. The idea of availability is manifested as a pavilion of reflective floating circular disks perched above organic shaped public seating. The reflective surface invites visitors to playfully observe their surroundings, allowing for introspection and interaction. The installation encourages gathering through its circular forms, referencing the rich value of radial community planning, historically designed by communities in Sub-Saharan Africa. Ultimately, this circular navigation of space subverts the traditions of constricting communities in grids—grids similar to that of the city plan of Chicago.

By drawing comparisons between Matri-Archi’s African references and Chicago’s South Side, the installation encourages visitors to explore links between everyday spatial practices that align local communities with those in Sub-Saharan Africa through an emphasis on the role of design. QR codes appear on each pole, inviting visitors to scan into a virtual realm and reflect on the mirrored parallels between the familiar and unfamiliar surroundings.

Through these material, digital, and design considerations, the installation encourages continuous conversation, reflection, and framing of moments that foreground the value of everyday spatial practices embedded in memory-making, dwelling, congregating, and moving—all of which allow for learning that is anchored in a generosity of spirit. This generosity of spirit represents an availability to engage with oneself, communities far and near, the site, and the city—all in all reflecting our (global) South Side.

Past Works

MA Pavilion Africa Summit Sankt Gallen Switzerland, 2018

MA Pavilion Africa Summit Sankt Gallen Switzerland, 2018