At the End of the World

Design Studio
Spring Semester 2024

This studio strives against modern processes of erasure. The celebration of the industrial world, frequently termed as development, is in many ways unsustainable and by no means a universal measure of progress. Unacknowledged exploitations and appropriations promoted by modernism participated and participate in the erasure of indigenous and localized identities in the name of capitalist, extractivist and neocolonial values hidden under the guise of universalism. Institutions and architecture have often been agents of their own isolation, neglecting nature, culture and human lives. They have been and are complicit in reinforcing class, racial and cultural segregation. Institutions and disciplines inherit from imperial violence, and continue to reproduce it in hiding their responsibility by the production of ignorance. The current world order is only possible because of the exploitation, impoverishment and organized underdevelopment of others through global material flows, globalized labour, raw materials extraction and control. Capitalism has had catastrophic consequences on the planet, economies, and people. Capitalistic institutions created further intangible borders establishing the concept of “Global North” and “Global South” that surmounted the geographical frontiers and imposed the control of the first on the latter. This divides, borders and inequalities are equally active in cities of the “Global North”, through grating uneven access to resources, institutions, health and representation according to gender, race, class and other identities or belongings. Responsibilities for threatening the Global Majority with economic and institutional systems by the Global Minority remain earthed. Part of not being complicit in this cycle is for the Global Minority to consider becoming hyperlocal (local practices, local vulnerabilities).

Imagining architecture, institutions, and our societies “at the end of the World,” proposes to follow Denise Ferreira da Silva at the end of this World, as to refer to worlds in which we work collectively toward the dismantlement and transformation of the world system which perpetuates inequalities, racism and colonial legacies. Imagining at the end of the World also invites us in an epistemological rupture with Eurocentrism, acknowledging, listening to and working with alternative ways of conceiving, designing and experiencing. Imagining at the end of the World goes beyond linear and colonial conceptions of time and history, rejecting the idea that non-imperial and non-colonial ways of thinking and doing never existed, making kin with pasts, presents and futurities.


Aby Moritz Warburg, Roberto Ohrt, and Axel Heil, Aby Warburg: Bilderatlas Mnemosyne the Original (Berlin London Berlin: HKW, Haus der Kulturen der Welt The Warburg Institute Hatje Cantz, 2020).


View over the new entrance in the extension from the old loggia of Villa Wesendonck.


Photograph of installation view of Parralel of Life and Art exhibition, 1953.


Indian sculptures in the Villa Wesendonck at the time of Museum’s director Johannes Itten, 1955.

Student Projects

How do we think of spaces for restitution, repair, and what is beyond repair? The return of ill-acquired objects will eventually be inevitable as evident from the current turmoil surrounding the question. Imagining what it would mean allows us to be armed with positive solutions for something new and engaging rather than allowing fear to maintain us on the wrong side of history. As we imagine a world several years in the future where Museums no longer own these objects in their collections, it begs the question: What are the futurities of museums at the End of the World? The studio offers the opportunity to work within the Ethnographic Museum of the University of Zurich and the Museum Rietberg. Both include historical buildings and gardens embedded in the urban landscape. The first being a public Institution founded for research, and a Museum run by the city of Zurich collecting non-European objects for the second. The program will reshape the role of the two Institutions in their context. The design response will deal with the contents (the objects of the exhibitions) and the containers (the buildings and gardens).

↗  click on corresponding project for more details

Tophography of Confrontations
Defne Çetinkaya, Michelle Reinschmidt

Growing Culture
Luca Allemann, Marina Täube

Intercultural Housing as the No-Museum
Burak Alp Kaya, Deepthi Maria Puthenpurackal

Challenging Publics
Julia Rezzonico, Carla Rindlisbacher

From Objects to Artists
Adrien Bressan, Chloé Tournelle

Sustainable Remembrance
Jeffrey Barman, Julian Merlo

Dance Forms of Freedom
Melissa Roth, León Madörin

The Museum as a Playground
Chidi Speranza, Raphael Ulli

Circular Exchange
Mohamad Ali El Mawla, Eduardo Cavalcanti

Performing Invisibility
Audrey Man, Laura Cella

(Out of) Context
Livia Ruckstuhl, Stella Meister

Canvas for Culture
Alexandra Yarochkina, Ya Kung Peng

Museum of Botanical Heritage
Lorenzo Cruz, Jérémie Guyot

House of Tales
Talia Kunszt, Yeva Dobrovolska

Long Live the Ruin !
Carel Nguy, Louis Prongué

Address & 

Prof. Mariam Issoufou
Chair for Architecture Heritage & Sustainability
ETH Zürich
Department of Architecture

HIL E 47.1
Stefano–Franscini–Platz 5
CH–8093 Zürich
+44 633 48 58