Rice Architecture Fall 2020 Lecture Series: Ilze Wolff & Heinrich Wolff

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September 9, 2020
12:00 PM - 1:00 PM

About Paying Attention
Fall 2020 Lecture Series: Race, Social Justice, and Allyship
Sep. 09, 2020
12:00pm to 1:00pm
Zoom Webinar


Click here for more information and to register.

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Ilze Wolff and Heinrich Wolff, principals Wolff Architects, South Africa, present the lecture "About Paying Attention" at 12:00 p.m. via Zoom as part of the Rice Architecture Fall 2020 Lecture Series.

IIze Wolff and Heinrich Wolff will discuss how their projects emerge out of a careful attention to the details of its conditions, as opposed to the obvious and often unquestioned constructed narratives of place and space. This is their frame for discussing research projects as well as spatial interventions through architectural form. Their attention to the oblique allows for the work to move towards uncomfortable questions around race, coloniality, and gender. They offer a conversation around architectural practice situated within the black studies and their readings of Bessie Head, Zoë Wicomb, Sol Plaatje, Chimurenga, Kemang Wa Lehulere, Fred Moten, Saidiya Hartman, Kader Attia, Miriam Makeba, Aretha Franklin, and Charles Mingus, to name a few.

Informed by the colonial history of their home in Cape Town, Heinrich and Ilze Wolff established their eponymous architecture firm as a vehicle for addressing social inequities, as well as the erasure of indigenous landscapes and narratives. While spatial design is at the heart of its activities, the firm distinguishes itself through its reliance on a diverse set of employees and collaborators—including photographers, artists, filmmakers, and writers—and an expansive practice that encompasses social justice advocacy, research and scholarship, and conceptual art. Wolff bolsters its practical design business with consultancy services, an in-studio art gallery, a publication, and site-specific artistic interventions, all of which emphasize innovation and social engagement, and blur the lines between design, art, and activism. “The city of Cape Town . . . is both a source and a site of knowledge production,” the firm asserts. “The public projects that we design all motivate for a more connected and inclusive public realm.”'

Rice Architecture Fall 2020 Lectures are part of an initiative to acknowledge, understand, and act on systemic racism in the built environment. Invited designers, scholars, and activists will speak on the relationship between race, architecture, and, by extension, related questions of social equity, environmental justice, and gender parity. The aim of the lecture series is to foreground these issues in the school’s curriculum while more broadly fostering solidarity and action in architecture.