Big Ideas for Cities Reach Chicago by Way of South Africa
Counterspace Studio searches for projects that have an unconventional quality to them. At the same time, their work often involves a certain sense of activism against the norms of policy and space in South Africa’s biggest city, especially in forgotten and contested areas.
Their work lies at the intersection of research, architecture, and urban concepts. They create "spatial fairytales" to highlight observations of how history has affected contemporary urban narratives.
"Our experimental ‘laboratory’ tries to cause active change within desperate spaces, and still celebrate the magic in the spirit of the city," says Vally. "The playfulness in our practices and the opportunity to bend the rules is underlined by satirical commentary and a sophistication in the way serious social issues are tackled."
A recent investigation into the reappropriation of Johannesburg’s mine dumps led the group to discover clues of how abandoned spaces are being used. They presented their findings in a "forensic scan", which was exhibited as part of the inaugural Chicago Architecture Biennial.