2018/2019 Steedman Fellowship: Infrastructure

Winner: “Collective Clutter,” installation view, Princeton University. (Photo: Courtesy of Lily Zhang)



When one thinks of infrastructure, it’s usually about roads, rails, bridges, airports, canals, pipelines, and any- and everything about getting from one place to another. But leave it to the Steedman competition to stimulate designers to view things from a different point of view.


In the 2016/17 Steedman competition, won by Pedro Pitarch of Spain, the winner explored the theme, “Adaptation,” and convinced the jury with his proposal, Disguised Metropolitanisms: Unveiling the Masquerade of Urban Domesticity. Pitarch’s point of departure? “There has been a migration from the right of property to the right of access and use,” argued Pedro Pitarch. “Spaces are no longer used according to their architectural program, but according to their protocols, their accessibility, and their possibilities of empowerment.”

2016/2017 Winning entry by Pedro Pitarch


In the 2018/2019 competition, winner Lily Zhang looked at how the accumulation of stuff by individuals in our society has had a major impact on how we live our lives. According to Zhang, “storage” allows architecture to maintain order. “We keep our active inhabitable areas free of clutter and the appearance of overindulgence, while banishing unused and unwanted items to the basement, the warehouse, the broom cupboard, or the mechanical room. Yet rather than dismissing these spaces as passive and inert, what we stash away and where we hide them are as revealing as what we display, if not more.”


In the words of jury chair, Andrea Leers, “The notion of identifying systems of storage as infrastructure is wholly original, revealing both the ubiquity of our ever-expanding stuff and its spatial impact,” Leers said. “Members of the jury were impressed with the investigation at multiple scales, and look forward to seeing the outcome in terms of drawings and photos, full-size installations and public workshops.”


Zhang, who prevailed over 80 submissions from around the world, will use her $50,000 fellowship stipend to spend six months to a year, examining unseen storage and support infrastructure across Italy, England, France, Switzerland, the U.S. and Japan. In addition to Leers, the all-female jury consisted of Marion Weiss, co-founder of WEISS/MANFREDI Architecture/Landscape/Urbanism in New York; Lisa Iwamoto, a founding partner of IwamotoScott Architecture in San Francisco; Linda C. Samuels, associate professor of urban design in the Sam Fox School; and Anna B. F. Ives, managing partner of patterhn ives, St. Louis and lecturer in the Sam Fox School.


Winner Lily Zhang (Image: Courtesy Lily Zhang)


For those who wish to learn more about the Steedman Fellowship, organized under the aegis of Washington University’s Sam Fox School of Architecture, and its history:





Winner, Lily Zhang: “Collective Clutter”

Planometric and sectional views of shared storage spaces, from “Collective Clutter,” which proposes new spatial and socially engaged models of storage. (Image: Courtesy of Lily Zhang)


“Collective Clutter,” installation details, Princeton University. (Photo: Courtesy of Lily Zhang)



“Collective Clutter,” axonometric vignettes. (Photo: Courtesy of Lily Zhang)



Finalist, James Leng: “Infrastructure in the Anthropocene: An Alternative Modernity for the Three Gorges.”

Images: Courtesy of James Leng



Finalist, Aurélie Frolet: “Acqua Urbana: Architectural Potentials for Water in the City”

Images courtesy Aurélie Frolet



Finalist, Michael Chin: “Architecture Identity: Examining the Stranger Aspects of Civic Architecture”


Images courtesy Michael Chin