Visiting Critic Victor Zagabe shapes The Dark Matter Issue of Architect magazine

ASAU’s Jana Bawaba among featured students

October 29, 2023

Victor Zagabe, a Visiting Critic at the Azrieli School of Architecture & Urbanism (ASAU), has played a major role in The Dark Matter Issue of Architect magazine, published in October 2023.


The magazine, which is the official Journal of the American Institute of Architects, also features work by ASAU Master of Architecture student Jana Bawaba.


Members of Dark Matter U (DMU), a design justice movement of which Zagabe is a core organizer, guest-edited, and designed The Dark Matter Issue: Architectures of Joy, Collectivity, and Abundance.


Zagabe led the co-editing effort and co-wrote two articles, Framing and Transforming the Future of Professional Practice. He also designed the cover image, an AI-generated mixed-media illustration. He calls the project “a labour of love.”

The cover of the dark matter issue.
Table of Contents for 'The Dark Matter Issue'
A page of 'The Dark Matter Issue' titled 'NEXT PROGRESSIVES' showing the students of DMU

Bawaba is among six emerging professionals and DMU students introduced in a piece titled Next Progressives.


She took part in an Option Studio, Material Translations, taught last winter by Zagabe and Visiting Critic Jelisa Blumberg, also of DMU.


“Jana was nominated due to her capacity to organize within the classroom setting,” says Zagabe. “To subvert the norm of architectural education often favouring the individual genius, her nomination was based on her capacity to see the threads of connection among the collective work.”


The graduate studio included a trip to Cartagena, Colombia. For their final review, the 10 students curated an exhibition that included maps, drawings, and artifacts that described narratives of material, labour, and trade in the Caribbean city.


“Working with DMU taught me to further investigate and try to understand the context of any project or community we may work with,” says Bawaba. “I learned to look beyond the surface into history, culture, people, commodities, and all other aspects of our existence. I hope to continue trying to see the world and my work through this lens.”

A photo of the work by Jana Bawaba for the Dark Matter U Option Studio
Credit: Simaza Najji
Jana Bawaba’s work was included in a trio with Nadia Kriplani and Karen Trinivo Arenas which investigated the most ephemeral impressions of the city, questioning the ever-changing value of material commodities in a collective work titled “Quando Vale?”
A photo capturing a group of students gathered in the exhibition room, surrounded by works on display.
Credit: Simaza Najji
The final exhibition brought the work of three groups together to address the material research conducted in Cartagena. Students were asked to work collectively as a class and in smaller nested groups to tell material narratives from the most tangible, to the ephemeral. 
A photo of students presenting at reviews for the Option Studio, Material Translations, taught Visiting Critics Victor Zagabe and Jelisa Blumberg, of Dark Matter U.
Image credit: Michelle Duong.
Students present at reviews for the Option Studio, Material Translations, taught Visiting Critics Victor Zagabe and Jelisa Blumberg, of Dark Matter U.
A photo of Jelisa Blumberg (on the left) and Victor Zagabe (on the right) teaching a graduate studio at the Azrieli School of Architecture & Urbanism in Winter 2023.
Image credit: Michelle Duong.
Jelisa Blumberg (L) and Victor Zagabe (R) taught a graduate studio at the Azrieli School of Architecture & Urbanism in Winter 2023.

About Victor Zagabe


Victor Zagabe is a Canadian architectural designer, organizer, and educator. He is interested in the collaborative and transdisciplinary processes required to enact design justice, the designer’s role in enabling cultural sovereignty, and the nuanced relationship between politics and the built environment. His work has been published in Log, PLOT, and Galt and exhibited at the Lisbon Triennale and Design at Riverside. He is a core organizer in Dark Matter U and the Design As Protest Collective.

About Dark Matter U (DMU)


Dark Matter U is a Black-, Indigenous-, and people of colour-led network representing a design justice movement within academia and built environment practitioners who converged to address longstanding, structural racism in the design fields and education.


Since its inception in 2020, DMU has grown into a platform for more than 180 people, reflecting and reaching a wide range of communities, practices, experiences, and ways of engaging and shaping architecture, design, and the built environment.


DMU saw in the confluence of the remote work and educational environments of COVID, and amid the resurgence of Black Lives Matter, an opportunity to mount a radical, trans-disciplinary, trans-institutional, and anti-racist critique that could operate both “one foot in and one foot outside” of existing institutions while centering equity, justice, and care in its work.