Game-Changing Architecture Graduates #07 /// Roanne Oberholzer (Moodley)



The Game-Changing Architecture Graduates project is a short daily series of posts that aim at honoring and giving visibility to the work of people who recently graduated from architecture school, and who fiercely engage with the political dimension of the built environment. Battling with “the discipline that organizes bodies in space” that tends to materialize and enforces the violence of colonial, racist, patriarchal, capitalist, and ableist political structures, they undertake to either beating architecture at its own game, or envisioning revolutionary designs and narratives. Please note that this series exists in a joyful and constructive spirit of community-building, far from ideas of competition, ranking, and exhaustiveness; there is no doubt that many other people than the ones featured in it would deserve to be part of it. 

Read the series introduction /// Find the rest of the series 

#07 Roanne Oberholzer (Moodley)


City: Durban
School: Graduate School of Architecture, University of Johannesburg
Year graduated: 2019


Oberholzer Roanne

Roanne Oberholzer studied her architecture undergrad course at the University of Pretoria during the Fees Must Fall movement which profoundly impacted her understanding of space, ownership and access. In 2017 she interned at Asiye eTafuleni, an NPO that works alongside informal traders in Durban’s Warwick Junction. She is currently working at Lead Architects, teaching design at UKZN and freelancing as a researcher and designer based in Durban. She is interested in how the use of architecture evades the architect’s control, and the political tool of events as a way to build with the body. She was our main collaborator for The Funambulist 28 (March-April 2020) Our Battles, for which she produced no less than 27 drawings.


Architecture primarily acts as a tool to organise bodies in space (Léopold’s definition which  literally made me sigh in relief when I first read it in Undergrad). However, some of the most revolutionary moments in architecture’s history have been when these bodies revolt against this organisation: occupying space they were not supposed to, erecting banners/signs/flags that were not meant to be visible in a public space, pulling down statues that were made to be permanently upright and above us. Additionally, the way people use architecture in everyday scenarios – sleeping on a public bench, sitting on a window sill, climbing a downpipe- has always been beyond the control of the architect. My work asks if we can write architecture in the same way that we read it- as a series of events in space mediated by our bodies, and by doing so, find a language for architecture that is more free from the systems that so often co-opt it for their own purposes.

This means that my work never analyses or proposes spaces (whether this is the space of my site, a page, a street, or a mouth) outside of an action/event/situation that happens in it. The space, object and action always work together. It also means that I try to draw events with a research rigour that illustrates my belief in their ability to be as nuanced, constructed, specific and political as architecture is.

The Twin Transcripts, completed in 2018, re-imagines an event that was duplicated from Mainland France to one of it’s ‘overseas departments’ Reunion Island: Bastille Day, later renamed National French Day. France’s colonial act of replicating a national event which originated as a revolutionary event in one of its territories as a display of power was the precarious starting point for this project. Drawing references from the political act of twinning cities after WWII in hope of reconciliation, Egypt’s gift of one Luxor Obelisk twin to France, Paul Vergès’ arrest for attacking the integrity of the state, and the fall of the Vendome Column, the project imagines a revolutionary Bastille Day Parade in Reunion Island.

Makhzen, completed in 2019, is a series of studies on the acts of ingesting language through reading, speaking, and listening in the context of Morocco, a constitutional Monarchy with heavily censored media houses. It is a radio station, a radio drama, and a coup- a space, a story and an event. The project focuses on how language has the power to create boundaries around thought and behaviour at a civic scale. Learning from Morocco, its creole language, political satire, music traditions, history of attempted coups and, more broadly, from language itself, this radio station foregrounds dissent, discord and dissonance which exists under the surface of censorship.

Roanne Moodley Fig 1

The Twin Transcripts
Demolition Sequence 02_01 The fall of the Victory Column
Outside Town Hall, Rue de Paris, Saint-Denis


//enter crane, lowering apparatus and construction workers
//demarcate demolition area


//enter people in the city not yet at the parade
//crowd around statue waiting for fall
//play games creating second stage (ref. Paris steel workers)


//enter casket. Military tanks open casket
//pockets of shadow structures formed
//spectators move beyond demarcated zones into transportation box


//crane lowers column into box


Roanne Moodley Fig 2

The Twin Transcripts
Demolition Sequence 02_03 Festival Separation
Place Charles de Gaulle, Saint-Denis
14.07 2019


//official procession continues to Prefectura
//Vendome COlumn box and spectators turn left to Rue de Paris
//Box creates 9m tall wall in parade of hidden activity from the Prefectura
//creates twin parade, where spectators deviate from official route

Roanne Moodley Fig 3

The Twin Transcripts
Demolition Sequence 01_02 Overboard
River Seine, Paris


//military band and guards part of procession line bridge over Seine River.


//Vendome Column box too wide to fit across bridge with guards and extend
-ed flags- guards receive orders to throw French Flags overboard


Setting Out: eye tracking studies on reading

Setting out a building is the process of transferring architectural proposals from drawings into the ground. It established the location points for site boundaries, foundations, columns, center-lines of walls and other necessary structural elements.

Img 02


Tracking blind spots from positions of power to site the radio station as space and event. User pathways during ceremony of allegiance used.

Img 03

Speaking Back

Creole language is formed from two or more parent languages merging together, and borrowing from native languages to change the structure of the parent languages and form a new language.

Alphabet Frequencies


The quality of language that is comprehensible.


Scene B-01
Location: Just outside mosque
Name: King Mohammed VI and The Replacement King
Occupation: Divine Ruler and Divine Ruler Impersonator
Language: French
Date 8 October 2020
Time 12:00pm-12:50