Dr Thandiwe Nikolaya Loewenson










Tender-Yodabwisana: kuziBa Bantu Bamene Basebenzela pamozi mu kagulidwe ka vintu va Bantu Ba mu Lusaka kuseBenzesa kupanga, maganizo ya muntu na kulangiza / 

A Weird-Tender: unearthing an inclusive practice for public procurement in Lusaka through design, fiction and performance

Second supervisor(s)
Professor CJ Lim and Camillo Boano

Vamene tifunika kuziba / Abstract 

In this thesis, I build on research linking extraction, property and racialised subjectivities [Bhandar, Mbembe, Yusoff], contributing an analysis of how, in Lusaka, architecture and procurement are used to facilitate exclusions and access to minerals elsewhere. I question how unearthing weird and tender practices developed in the bygone Zambian Space Program, can inform an architectural practice that disrupts these extractive, exclusionary dynamics. I explore how an output of this practice – a Weird-Tender – developed with the Lusaka City Council and the Chunga Waste Recyclers Association, can intervene in the privatisation of the Chunga Landfill, offering an alternative to exclusionary, extractive modes of tendering in the city. 

This work involves archival research, interviews, site visits, fiction and creative writing, design, drawing and participatory performance. Through scenes revealing and excavating a spaceship in a fictional city called Mailo, I build on research into designing, performing, and writing through fictional worlds [Hartman, Boal, Nkoloso, Rendell] towards an innovative and inclusive mode of public procurement in Lusaka. Mailo acts as an architectural interpretation of the ‘weird’ [Fisher, Miéville] – a rendering of Lusaka, past, parallel and possible – made ‘tender’, through care afforded to its deployment, and through performance. 

The Weird-Tender is centrally positioned within the thesis and designed to be extracted from the document in London for submission to the Council in Lusaka, materially reversing a historical trend of South to North flows of knowledge and resources. Preceding the Weird-Tender are essays which investigate the city as a site facilitating exclusions and extraction, and studying the practices established historically to contest this through the Zambian Space Program. Following the Weird-Tender is an analysis of the methods developed through the thesis – a weird and tender architectural practice – culminating in a ‘Call for Expressions of Interest’ to develop this practice further. 




Related publications

‘A Taxonomy of Flight,’ Serpentine Galleries, December 2020 https://youtu.be/k8FGJ15VsLI

‘To get lost in mysterious mist,’ e-flux architecture, May 2021 https://www.e-flux.com/architecture/survivance/387184/to-get-lost-in-mysterious-mist/


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.