Thandi is an architectural designer/researcher who operates through design, fiction and performance to interrogate our perceived and lived realms and to speculate on the possible worlds in our midst. Thandi holds a PhD in Architectural Design from The Bartlett, UCL, through which she developed a new form of architectural practice – weird and tender – to excavate and contest the extractive agendas driving the urban development of Lusaka. Central to this research was a live project, investigating how insertions of the other worldly and the downright weird – inspired by the Zambian Space Program – could support the City Council and the Chunga Waste Recycler’s Association to produce a ‘Weird-Tender’ recognizing them as partners of the state. As well as being Tutor at the Royal College of Art, Thandi is a Visiting Professor at the Aarhus School of Architecture (Denmark), and a ‘Roving Hybrid’ tutor at the Graduate School of Architecture (South Africa). She is a co-foundress of the architectural collective BREAK//LINE – an ‘act of creative solidarity’ which ‘resists definition with intent’ – formed at The Bartlett in 2018 to oppose the trespass of capital, the indifference towards inequality and the myriad frontiers of oppression present in architectural education and practice today. Thandi is also a contributor to EQUINET, the Regional Network on Equity in Health in East and Southern Africa, most recently as a co-author on a discussion paper identifying research methods and practices which support health equity and as a co-curator of the organisation’s quarterly newsletter.
Thandi’s practice – weird and tender – develops architectural interpretations of the ‘weird’ which are made ‘tender’ through care afforded to their deployment. From unearthing to the unearthly, through research investigating the spatial politics of architecture, procurement and Outer Space, Thandi’s work links theories of extraction, property and racialised subjectivities towards understanding and undoing the entangled exclusionary dynamics at play in each.
This work involves archival research, fiction and creative writing, design, drawing and situated and participatory performance informed by rituals, and theatre of the oppressed. To date, outputs range from policy documents, films, drawings, performances and curated exhibitions to the excavation of a spaceship from a city landfill.