‘Post-traumatic’ urban conditions (such as Johannesburg) are fertile ground for investigating these emergent ‘rogue economies’, full of visceral and raw conditions that test the traditional limits of architecture. Unit 14 is interested in revealing the inner workings and spatial effects of economic practices that are, by their very nature, clandestine and shadowy, often difficult to identify. Innovative ways of seeing and documenting are required.


In Unit 14, we co-construct spatial literacy through forensic drawing methods. We use maps, catalogues and cartographies to divine and tap into the logics at play. Out of these messy, emergent configurations, uncertainties proliferate – legal, sustainable and ethical.

This year, Unit 14 seeks to investigate Leisure. Its politics, spatiality and the kind of society it produces. In Bertrand Russell’s polemic essay – ‘In Praise of Idleness’, he draws a direct relationship between leisure and work – arguing the nature of our work directly determines the nature of our leisure. He further argues the powerful role Leisure plays in producing quality of life, culture and power. In South Africa our work, and by default, our Leisure is deeply politicised. Our dark history and extreme structural inequality strongly defines our urban lives and will continue to do so despite all promises of a better world. Through this reading, our distorted work, or lack thereof, comes to fundamentally define our society along lines of class, race and geography. We seek to understand how complicit architecture is in producing extractive labour mechanics and exclusive Leisure enclaves. Through the exhaustive working of Leisure we aim to grasp new tactics of how to intervene in finding speculative alternatives to shape our social, political and spatial arrangements through Leisure.

© Unit 14 2020

Neetesh Ramnath B Arch (Hons)