Mitchell Visiting Professor: Berenika Boberska

SAIC Mitchell Visiting Professor Berenika Boberska

Berenika Boberska is the principal of Feral Office based in Los Angeles — a practice at the intersection of architecture, landscape futurism and speculative folklores.

She describes her practice as being akin to a laboratory, constructing “future artefacts” and spatial prototypes for some of the more extreme rural hinterlands of Los Angeles, which increasingly echo landscapes and imaginaries of the Global South. 

Her projects and teaching engage territories which have been largely overlooked by architecture: the anthropogenic landscapes of agricultural or mineral overdrive-altered grounds, post extraction spillages, and emerging darker ecologies. Prior to coming to SAIC, she taught at Woodbury School of Architecture in Los Angeles, where she was the co-founder of the Hinterlands Institute — a series of expeditions, fieldwork-based design studios and exhibitions which engaged with the precarious flourishing of such tailings, both real and metaphoric. 

Berenika's projects often begin through collaborations with scientists. Solar Baroque is a voluminous spatial prototype exploring translucency, exuberance, and chemical color in thin-film photovoltaics, developed and fabricated in collaboration with the Thompson Laboratory at the University of Southern California. Halophilia: Saltwater Gardens for Los Angeles is a project which connects diverting saltwater incursions in aquifers beneath LA with the potential of ancient saline landscape practices and research of the MASDAR Institute of Technology, UAE. Last summer she was part of a research trip to post-extraction sites of copper mining in Uganda with a team of scientists, landscape architects, and cultural historians, as part of the tranSci Lab for Real World Chemistry. The project addressed resilience in toxic environments.

Her most recent project, Lithium Valley Rituals, explores alternate scenarios for the future transformation of Imperial Valley and Salton Sea in California, brought by the discovery of what could be one of the world’s largest lithium deposits. The project explores the material and cultural potential of by-products and spoils, ideas of stewardship of emerging landscapes through larger time frames, and the folkloric turn of the Commons.

Berenika Boberska received her Master of Architecture from the Bartlett School of Architecture and Master of Fine Art from the Royal College of Art in London. After working first as a model-maker, then as a design architect at Gehry Partners for eight years, she began her own practice, Feral Office, in 2008. Her projects and installations have been exhibited and published worldwide, including at the Academy of Fine Arts, Helsinki, Finland; the Second Moscow Architecture Biennale; the University of Wyoming Art Museum; the Ruffin Gallery at the University of Virginia; and at the Gibberd Gallery, UK, amongst others. 

Her book publications include Fallow City (for Detroit), Hinterlands—A Visionary Praxis (with the Printmakers Left), and most recently a chapter on "The Geological Space of Naples," as part of Porous Architecture.

Past Mitchell Visiting Professors

Lauren Bon (2021-2022)
Andrew Schachman (2020-2021)
Joshua G. Stein (2019-2020)
Matylda Krzykowski (2018-2019)
Ekene Ijeoma (Spring 2018)
Ben Hooker (Fall 2017)
Stuart Candy (2016-2017)
Eric Ellingsen (2015-2016)

About the Mitchell Visiting Professor

The William Bronson and Grayce Slovet Mitchell Visiting Professor in the Department of Architecture, Interior Architecture, and Designed Objects is appointed to contribute experimental practices to an interdisciplinary community of artists and designers. The Mitchell Visiting Professor holds a full-time, one-year appointment to teach two, three-credit courses or one six-credit course a semester. In addition, the Mitchell Professor delivers a public lecture or organizes a public program as part of the department's Mitchell Lecture Series.