PRESS RELEASE: HUSTLES - 5 YEARS OF LOCAL STUDIO

AUGUST 01 2018

BY LOCAL STUDIO MEDIA TEAM

Johannesburg architecture firm Local Studio launches first book after winning international Design Vanguard Award for 2018

'Hustles' chronicles the firms first 12 built projects and five years of practice in the City of Gold.

JOHANNESBURG, August 1, 2018  – ­ The book, published by Local Studio, documents the first twelve buildings designed and built by the Johannesburg-based architecture firm, founded by Thomas Chapman in 2012. Co-authored by Chapman and photographer David Southwood, with Illustrations by Michael Tymbios, Hustles takes the reader not only into the buildings themselves, but also gives a detailed account of the often chaotic context of Johannesburg in which the buildings exist.

 A spread from 'Hustles' showcasing Westbury Bridge

A spread from 'Hustles' showcasing Westbury Bridge

Hustles reveals the work of Local Studio in vivid snapshots, diagrams, essays and interviews: from chaotic Hillbrow to the arid landscape of Tsakane, with Westbury, Brixton and Braamfontein in between. The importance of the urban context is a strong theme that runs throughout the book. As David Southwood puts in his essay: “It’s very unusual to have an architect give the sense that buildings grow out of the street- normally one is presented with an edifice, and the relationship to the street is a mumbled afterthought.” Southwood describes the context of Johannesburg as “…hard to understand, difficult to work in, and most often ignored.” Local Studio, is seen not only to take urban context into consideration but also the notion of urban place making. Chapman defines ‘place’ as “…the art of merging an area’s defining natural attributes with a grid of man-made infrastructure, facilitating convenience and dignity for human beings when they are most vulnerable, namely, whilst on foot.” (Chapman & Southwood 2018, p.15)

 Chapman & Southwood 2018, Fulham Heights

Chapman & Southwood 2018, Fulham Heights

The reader will be exposed to: “one of the first new social infrastructure projects to be built in Hillbrow since the 1970’s”; “a modern interpretation of a traditional Sophiatown building typology”; “a steel restaurant pavilion built as a temporary structure on the foundations of a demolished lunatic asylum”;  a bridge; a school; offices; housing and more.

Chapman not only runs a practice, but also currently teaches at the University of Johannesburg. “It was not easy to find the time to write a book between running a practice and teaching”. (2018, 15 July)

 Hustles- front cover. Photograph by David Southwood

Hustles- front cover. Photograph by David Southwood

Local Studio currently finds it itself at a tipping point. Hustles is the culmination of five years of Local Studio. Chapman’s intention with this first publication was to describe an architecture practice’s journey. A journey that saw a lot of ‘hustling’ to achieve its destination – “an architectural product that is present, engaged, hopeful and, ultimately, never boring”.  (Chapman & Southwood 2018, p.15)

Hustles book launch event will take place on 17 August 2018 at 99 Juta in Braamfontein at 18h00. 

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About the authors.

Thomas Chapman was born in Johannesburg in 1984. Chapman has Masters degrees in Architecture (2008) and Urban Design (2013) from the University of the Witwatersrand, conducting research into the reintroduction of ‘publicness’ into the post-apartheid city. Chapman spent time working as a researcher in the fields of oral history and civic engagement and joined Silvio Rech and Lesley Carstens as a professional architect in 2009. Chapman founded Local Studio in Brixton, Johannesburg in 2012. Today, the firm employs 15 full-time staff and has a diverse portfolio of built work comprising public buildings, urban design schemes and private houses.


The firm works mainly in the affordable housing, social infrastructure and public space sectors and is responsible for several projects that have played a part in the regeneration of downtown Johannesburg. Chapman has taught urban design at the University of the Witwatersrand and currently runs a housing unit at the University of Johannesburg’s Graduate School of Architecture. Chapman was selected as one of the Mail & Guardian’s ‘Young South Africans’ in 2016 and represented Local Studio as one of only 15 architectural practices selected by Juan Herreros at the Columbia GSAPP’s ‘Constructing Practice’ symposium in New York in 2017. In 2018 Chapman was selected by Architectural Record as a winner of the Architectural Vanguard award, which recognizes thebest emerging architects.



David Southwood is a photographer who concerns himself with the medium’s production and consumption, human rights and ‘documentary’s’ outer limits. His photos can be viewed at Iziko: South African National Gallery, the Finnish Museum of Photography, Christoph Merian Stiftung, the collection of the Constitutional Court of South Africa, Goethe-Institut, the Spier Art Collection, and private collections in South Africa and abroad. His work made up part of three shows at Iziko: South African National Gallery in 2010, two of which were broad surveys of South African art. In 2000 he set up Umlilo, the first non-profit organisation for township photographers in the Western Cape. In 2004 he was awarded first prize by the Bauhaus for an interdisciplinary project he co-authored.


Three short films he made about architecture were shown at the Venice Biennale of Architecture in 2010. These two projects are representative of a deep concern for architecture and cities, which culminated in the exhibition Cities in Crisis, which he co-curated and participated in. Other publications include The Bill of Rights, a photobook illustrating South Africa’s 20-year-old Bill of Rights, with an introduction by Constitutional Court Judge Edwin Cameron and MEMORY CARD SEA POWER, a broadsheet newspaper documenting the lives of Tanzanian stowaways who live below the N1 freeway in Cape Town. His book Milnerton Market was completed over the course of a decade and features commissioned essays by Ivan Vladislavic´.