Studio One Eleven

Architecture as a Vehicle for Change

Studio One Eleven's mission is to create more livable, sustainable, and engaging cities.

"The core of our practice is the repair of existing cities and the revitalization of communities," said Alan Pullman, Studio One Eleven Founder, and Senior Principal. "We are always looking to engage with like-minded visionaries."

Designer Jeff Gallardo of RDC's Arkansas office (RDC and Fathom are partner firms of Studio One Eleven) introduced the firm to his former classmate Wandile Mthiyane, an Obama Leader, TedxFellow, architectural designer and social entrepreneur, and CEO of the Ubuntu Design Group. Jeff was working along with the firm-wide REDI (Racial Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion) initiative and was looking for ways to make an impact in the wake of the Black Lives Matter protests that took place in the spring of 2020.

Andrews University students in an aparthied-shaped township in Durban, South Africa. Photo Credit Try Homenchuk, Andrew Von Maur, Andrews University School of architecture & Interior Design.

"Wandile's Ubuntu Architecture Summer Abroad (UASA) program strongly aligns with our values," Alan noted. "The architecture summer abroad students are the next generation. These students are encouraged to take an expansive view of the impact of design. They are asked to consider more than just creating beautiful, functional spaces. They are trained to see, hear, think, and feel beyond the aesthetics and into the community."

UASA has created a cross-cultural design-build experience for collegiate architecture students from around the world. Students embark on a unique educational experience to design and build dignified and culturally-influenced homes for resilient families in South Africa who have been affected by economic and social challenges as a result of apartheid architecture.

Students learn a community-centered approach to impacting large communities. In 2021 the program will be virtual, live from Durban, South Africa, from June 1-30, 2021.

Wandile said, "We believe in using architecture as a vehicle to bring about change. If apartheid architecture could segregate and oppress, community-based design can liberate and enable opportunity, growth, and commerce."

Family in their new home

The experience will expose students to design problems stemming from systemic racism. Apartheid architecture was used to segregate and oppress. Community-centered design focuses on bringing people together and enabling equitable opportunities for all. At the end of the program, participants will be equipped with the tools necessary to implement change in their communities.

"Until we change the way we design and build, we will not be able to extinguish the evils of systemic racism," Wandile comments. "Architecture is never neutral; it either heals or hurts."

Jeff added, "UASA students hope to become designers and builders to create diversity, equity, and justice in the realms of architecture. They hope to move these ideas forward and in the long-term of their careers work with firms that strive for the same ideals."

At Studio One Eleven, as a sponsor of this year's UASA program, we are looking forward to experiencing the summer study program through the students' eyes.

Wandile taking the family on a site visit of their in-progress home.