Meriem Chabani

Meriem Chabani


Meriem Chabani (New South) 
in discussion with Summer Islam (Material Culture/RIOT)

Monday 6 March 2023, 6 pm
Mercury Rising: Architecture Beyond Green Washing 
Superonda talk n°1

For this first talk of the Superonda lecture series organised by Charlotte Malterre-Barthes, Meriem Chabani will presents New South’s work from two perspectives. First, its call for cities to reinvest in the notion of the sacred, bringing about processes of regeneration, care and sanctuarization for the built and natural environment. And the deeply compromised and shameless piracy it employs to push its agenda forward. Both perspectives reflect our position as pigeon-holed and minoritized actors and demonstrate various evasion tactics, as well as opportunistic positions of alignment with the forces against which we see a need to struggle. 

In the context of a capitalist colonial continuum, we are invested in the question of creating value beyond the market, reinvesting values from the South and other margins. We will share the various ways in which this happens, from spatial practice to human relationships, and how engaging with the dirty realities of construction and property speculation can provide the tools to fight, and fight sustainably.


Meriem Chabani is an architect, urban planner and founding partner at New South. Her international practice prioritizes spaces for vulnerable bodies and territories in tension. She applies the words of bell hooks, putting the margin at the center. By questioning power dynamics and stakeholder relations, her projects include in-depth work on human practices to inform spatial resolution. She currently teaches at the Ecole Nationale Supérieure d’Architecture Paris Malaquais (FR), Royal College of Arts (UK) and HEAD Geneva (CH). Since 2019, she serves as an expert on affordable housing and inclusive cities for the French delegation at the World Urban Forum. Her work has been showcased at a number of international architecture Biennials, including Venice, Istanbul, Oslo and Lagos. In 2020 Meriem won a Europe 40 under 40 award from The European Centre for Architecture and The Chicago Athenaeum.

Summer Islam is a founding Director of Material Cultures, an architecture and research practice founded to bring together design, material research and strategic thinking to make meaningful progress towards a post-carbon built environment. Material Cultures recently co-authored Material Reform, a book which assembles a series of essays exploring the cultures, systems, and infrastructures that shape the architectural industry and the destructive ecologies it fosters. Summer has taught architecture at the London Metropolitan University, the Bartlett School of Architecture and Central St Martins. She is currently a doctoral student with the RIOT lab at EPFL, where her research explores the potential for a decarbonised built environment which prioritises ecosystems over industry.