UJ Unit 2 recently hosted Liz Ogbu,  a globally recognized designer, urbanist, and social innovator based in San Francisco  to present at the University of Johannesburg




Liz is an expert on sustainable design and spatial innovation in challenged urban environments globally and graciously offered to share her work and critical experiences in the complex fields between architecture, social impact design and urbanism with the Graduate Programme in Architecture.




About Liz :

From designing shelters for immigrant day laborers in the U.S. to leading a design workshop at the Clinton Global Initiative Annual Meeting, Liz has a long history of engagement in the design for social impact movement. Currently, she has her own multidisciplinary consulting practice that works with nonprofits, municipalities, and companies to tackle wicked social problems through creative transformations of places, systems, and communities. Her clients include the Nike Foundation, Jacaranda Health, and Pacific Gas & Electric. And her network of collaborators have been equally dynamic including the likes of HealthxDesign, envelope a+d, and the Center for Sustainable Global Enterprise (Cornell).

Liz has been actively involved in shaping two of the world’s leading public interest design nonprofits. In 2011, she was part of the inaugural class of Innovators-in-Residence atIDEO.org, IDEO’s sister nonprofit dedicated to fostering global poverty reduction through design and innovation. Prior to that, she was Design Director at Public Architecture, a national nonprofit mobilizing designers to create social change. Whether interviewing day laborers in Los Angeles, analyzing health clinics in Bolivia, or developing a water and health social enterprise in Kenya, she has worked to advance the cause of innovative design and strategic thinking as a tool to address the needs and desires of underserved communities.

In addition to her practice work, Liz has had a long commitment to bringing social impact work into the classroom where her courses and research explore opportunities at intersection of design, innovation, and community engagement. She has taught at the California College of the Arts for several years, most recently holding an appointment as the inaugural Scholar in Residence at the school’s Center for Art and Public Life. She is also on faculty at UC Berkeley and Stanford’s d.school.

Liz lectures often on design for environmental and social impact. She also frequently leads workshops on human-centered design and social innovation, including one at the 2012 Social Entrepreneurship World Forum in Rio de Janeiro. Liz has also written for and been profiled in publications such as Places Journal, Metropolis, Core 77 and the Journal of Urban Design. Her work has also been widely exhibited, including at the Cooper-Hewitt National Design Museum, Rotterdam Biennale and Yerba Buena Center for the Arts.

Liz earned her Bachelor of Arts in architecture from Wellesley College and Master of Architecture from the Graduate School of Design at Harvard University.

A wanderlust maven, Liz is addicted to learning about cultures and has traveled extensively, including a ten-country sojourn through Sub-Saharan Africa on a Thomas J. Watson Fellowship.

(taken from  www.lizogbu.com)


Liz’s Master’s project, the Day Labour Station, undertaken during her time at Public Architecture exemplifies that role that spatial design plays in the complex socio-economic contexts such as South Africa. This project depcits the values and ethos that Unit 2 strives to embody in as design research entity.

Day Labour Station – Liz Ogbu

While her work on the Safe Spaces Nigeria alongside the Hunters Point Project  capture the importance of critical engagement with the site beyond the parameters of the brief.

Hunters Point Project – Liz Ogbu

Safer Spaces Nigeria


Unit 2 thanks Liz for her time and support!