MAS Context Fall Talks 2021
Architecture’s Social, Ecological, and Political Agency


Architects Germane Barnes and Shawhin Roudbari, Future Firm, and VAPAA Collective lectured online on Tuesday, September 21 as part of MAS Context’s 2021 Fall Talks series.


Architecture’s Social, Ecological, and Political Agency

This online program brought together participants of three architecture and design festivals that explore the potential of architecture and design as civic investment in locations such as Chicago, Columbus, Indiana, and Logroño, Spain.

Miami-based Germane Barnes and Boulder-based Shawhin Roudbari discussed their work for the 2021 Chicago Architecture Biennial; Chicago-based Future Firm shared their work for the 2020-21 edition of Exhibit Columbus; and Helsinki-based VAPAA Collective discussed their intervention as part of the seventh edition of Concéntrico. The teams shared their work and their approach to community, public space, and the environment. The event also included remarks by Anne Surak, Director of Exhibit Columbus, and Javier Peña Ibáñez, Director of Concéntrico.


About the Chicago Architecture Biennial
The Chicago Architecture Biennial (CAB) is a non-profit organization dedicated to creating an international forum on architecture and urbanism. Through a diverse program including exhibitions, commissions, publications, workshops, performances, and more, CAB advances architectural innovation and thinking by engaging practitioners, students, and the public to re-imagine the built world both globally and locally. CAB is committed to highlighting a future for architecture that is sustainable and equitable. | @chicagobiennial

About Concéntrico
Concéntrico is Logroño’s International Festival of Architecture and Design that proposes to reflect on the urban environment and the city. The latest edition, Concéntrico 07, will be held from September 2 to September 5, 2021.The festival invites visitors to tour the city through installations, exhibitions, meetings, activities, and performances that create a connection between the venues, squares, streets, courtyards, and hidden spaces that usually go unnoticed in their daily lives. Since 2015, the festival has brought together 73 urban installations created by teams of Spanish and international architects and designers who experiment with new fields of environmental design. In this way, a dialogue is established between the city, heritage, and contemporary architecture that activates citizens’ reflections on these spaces. | @concentricofest

About Exhibit Columbus
Exhibit Columbus is a program of Landmark Columbus Foundation and embodies its mission by being a locally responsive and globally engaged proponent for the design heritage of Columbus. Through symposia, exhibitions, public events and guided tours, online and print publications, and educational activities, Exhibit Columbus interprets Columbus’ design heritage and engages a diverse public of community members, students, professionals, and enthusiasts. Exhibit Columbus makes Columbus’ design legacy relevant to existing and new audiences by producing projects and events that celebrate and inspire investments in architecture, art, and design. | @exhibitcolumbus


This program is a partner program of the 2021 Chicago Architecture Biennial, Concentrico 07, and the 2020-21 Exhibit Columbus. It is supported by Acción Cultural Española (ACE).



Germane Barnes’s research and design practice investigates the connection between architecture and identity. Mining architecture’s social and political agency, he examines how the built environment influences black domesticity. Currently, he is an Assistant Professor and Director of the Community Housing Identity Lab (CHIL) at the University of Miami School of Architecture. He is the 2021 Harvard GSD Wheelwright Prize winner, Rome Prize Fellow, and winner of the Architectural League Prize. His design and research contributions have been published and exhibited in several international institutions. Most notably, The Museum of Modern Art, Chicago Architecture Biennial, Pin-Up Magazine, The Graham Foundation, The New York Times, Architect Magazine, DesignMIAMI/ Art Basel, The Swiss Institute, Metropolis Magazine, Curbed, and The National Museum of African American History where he was identified as one of the future designers on the rise. | @uncleremuschkn

Founded by Ann Lui and Craig Reschke in 2015, Future Firm designs spaces for clients who are change-makers in their own communities. Their work spans diverse scales: from events to residential and commercial buildings to urban and territorial speculations. Future Firm also currently operates The Night Gallery, a nocturnal exhibition space on Chicago’s South Side, which features video and film works by artists and architects from sunset to sunrise. | @futurefirm

Shawhin Roudbari is an assistant professor in Environmental Design at the University of Colorado Boulder. In his research, Shawhin studies ways designers organize to address social problems. He bridges sociological studies of social movements and race with architectural theory. Shawhin is a founding member of the Dissent by Design Collective, which uses design and theory building to investigate how dissent and counter-hegemonic tactics play out in urban landscapes. His work contributes to theories of contentious politics in the spatial professions and employs ethnographic methods.

VAPAA Collective consists of three Finnish architects: Iines Karkulahti, Charlotte Nyholm, and Meri Wiikinkoski. Their expertise covers all scales of architectural design from small pavilions to urban plans for entire neighborhoods. Iines Karkulahti is an architect and urban designer who specializes in shaping public spaces and utilizing research-based knowledge as part of the creative process. Charlotte Nyholm is an architect and city planner experienced in reconciling conflicting interests in order to solve complex challenges within the urban environment. Meri Wiikinkoski’s work blurs the line between art and architecture. She focuses especially on public buildings and has been successful in several architectural competitions. All three members of the collective also teach at Aalto University Department of Architecture in Helsinki, Finland.


A Spectrum of Blackness included in MoMA’s Reconstructions: Architecture and Blackness in America exhibition. © Studio Barnes.


A Spectrum of Blackness included in MoMA’s Reconstructions: Architecture and Blackness in America exhibition. © Studio Barnes.


Pop-Up Porch. © Studio Barnes.


Midnight Palace, 2021. © Future Firm.


Midnight Palace, 2021. © Future Firm.


Beyond Paralysis. © VAPAA Collective.


Halo. © VAPAA Collective.


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