Be transported to another place with postgraduate Khensani de Klerk
MPhil student Khensani de Klerk (2020) hosts the KONTEXT podcast, with each episode featuring a different guest speaking about a place that is important to them.
KONTEXT covers many scales - the city, the street, the room - and explores themes specific to that place and person. Season one explores different contexts by interviewing guests currently researching different locations in the Cambridge Design Research Studio.
We spoke to Khensani to find out more.
What is your podcast about?
KONTEXT invites a special guest per episode to speak about a place that they are local to, researching or simply deeply interested in. As the host, I hope to foster conversations through an architectural lens, exploring these different places and their social, ecological, and built characteristics through storytelling.
Why is it important?
I find KONTEXT an important vessel for sharing idiosyncratic stories and constantly expanding alternative mediums of knowledge, emphasising oral storytelling as a credible and accessible mode of learning. By hosting these conversations online, the ability to increase access to physical geographies through the digital landscape is something I find progressive for spatial practitioners, researchers and people who are simply curious. It has certainly been a way for me to learn about places in ways I would ordinarily be able to through reading, particularly in a world which sees us geographically constrained and unable to learn through direct experience.
Who will you be talking to on the podcast?
In season one of KONTEXT I invite nine guests currently researching different locations in the Cambridge Design Research Studio here at the University of Cambridge. These are all colleagues within my cohort who equally find conversation and discourse as a helpful form of learning. The last episode differs in that I invite pluri-disciplinary artist and architect currently at Oxford University, Maxwell Mutanda to end the season. In this special episode the microphone is flipped, with Maxwell leading the questions, interviewing me about my place of interest, Cape Town, South Africa, with a lens focused on safe space.
What are you studying at Jesus and how has your time here been so far?
I am currently studying an MPhil in Architecture and Urban Design, with a project that focuses on the relationship between public infrastructure and urban violence experienced by women of colour in Cape Town. The project addresses a planetary issue in response to long-standing gender-based violence in urban areas, with Cape Town as an initial and familiar site.
I have found my time at Jesus College extremely welcoming and consider myself very lucky in that the progressive themes of my interests are also present in this College and its community. I remained in College throughout the initial lockdown which very much so inspired me to create KONTEXT as a means of maintaining a momentum for co-learning despite the unprecedented circumstances.
What are your plans for the future?
I hope to use my current research project and the skills I have developed as a springboard into a longer-term initiative dedicated to improving social infrastructural provision in response to, and with hopes in preventing gender-based violence in urban contexts. More particularly, I imagine myself doing this at the intersection of public policy and architecture.
I hope to extend on the digital platform, public aGender, that I have created through my MPhil work which looks at visual storytelling as a qualitative data input mechanism that can inform and reimagine public policy suitable to realities of safety and risk on the ground.
I run a collective called Matri-Archi(tecture), which I aim to continue developing as a space dedicated gender empowerment for African women in the architectural industry. I believe in collaboration as a driver of transformation, and hope to continue working between multiple contexts geared at social and ecological sustainability in a diversifying shared global landscape.