Current Work: Wolff Architects

The founding principals of the South African practice discuss their design, research, and advocacy work.

February 15, 2022
12:00 p.m.

Wolff Architects | Cheré Botha School, Bellville, Cape Town, South Africa, 2017. Image credit: Dave Southwood

Current Work is a lecture series featuring leading figures in the worlds of architecture, urbanism, design, and art.

The spring 2022 Current Work series focuses on architectural practices designing museums, schools, and cultural centers that contend with the complex legacies of place. 

Founded by Ilze Wolff and Heinrich Wolff in 2012, Wolff Architects has aimed to cultivate, in its own words, “an enduring public culture around the city, space, and personhood.” Informed by the colonial history of its surroundings, the Cape Town-based firm excavates sites of historic inequity and erasure, using design, research, and advocacy tools to construct what it calls an “architecture of consequence.” From urban-scale infrastructure to handmade zines, its work embraces “a multiplicity of means of representation and expression, rather than accepting the constraint of speaking through buildings,” according to The Architectural Review. 

Recent projects include:

  • Cheré Botha School, a school for students on the autism spectrum and with intellectual disabilities;
  • 66 Greatmore, the refurbishment and repair of a local school built in 1916;
  • Bahá’í House of Worship, a Congolese Bahá’í sanctuary inspired by the region’s historic architecture and natural features;
  • Summer Flowers, a research project, installation, and film that examines the voice and spatial practice of South African writer, activist, and gardener Bessie Head.

Heinrich Wolff studied architecture at the University of Pretoria and the University of Cape Town. From 1998 to 2012, he was the director of Noero Wolff Architects with Jo Noero. Wolff was selected as a Designer of the Future by the Wouter Mikmak Foundation and has received both the Daimler Chrysler Award for Architecture and the Royal Institute of British Architects’ Lubetkin Prize. He is the author of Architecture at a Time of Social Change, a treatise on post-apartheid architecture in South Africa, and is currently teaching an option studio at Harvard’s Graduate School of Design.

Ilze Wolff earned her BArch and MPhil in heritage and public culture from the University of Cape Town. She is the author of Unstitching Rex Trueform: The Story of an African Factory, an award-winning interdisciplinary study of a garment manufacturing factory in Cape Town. In 2007, Wolff co-founded Open House Architecture, a transdisciplinary research practice, and in 2016, she founded the publication and research platform pumflet: art, architecture and stuff, which focuses on Black social and spatial imaginaries. 

The lecture will be introduced by Mabel O. Wilson. Wilson is the Nancy and George E. Rupp Professor in Architecture and also a professor in African American and African Diaspora Studies at Columbia University, and the Director of the Institute for Research in African American Studies.

The lecture will be followed by a conversation and Q&A with architect, designer, and educator Hayley Eber. Eber is the associate dean at The Irwin S. Chanin School of Architecture of The Cooper Union and the principal of Studio Eber. ​​She holds an MArch from Princeton University, a BArch from the Cooper Union, and a BAS from the University of Cape Town.


This program is supported, in part, by public funds from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the City Council, and by the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of the Office of the Governor and the New York State Legislature.

The event is co-sponsored by The Irwin S. Chanin School of Architecture of The Cooper Union.



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