Assistant Professor of Architecture
Rhode Island School of Design

2019-2021 Wortham Fellow, Rice Architecture
M.S. Critical, Curatorial, and Conceptual Practices, Columbia GSAPP
Registered Australian architect, ARBV 19420
M.Arch & B.Env, University of Melbourne
Chronic cartoonist and writer
Architecture is the largest file format you know.
A building is slow information. It caches and organizes material, aesthetic, and infrastructural forces over time. It stores environmental time and material properties, it draws together labor and building systems, it absorbs legal ordinances and everyday occupation. In aggregate, the city might be seen as a real-time database layered with building types and technologies, property lines, planning decisions, and (human and non-human) stories at every scale.

My work explores architecture as media: environmental matter as information. Drawings, models, maps, diagrams, spreadsheets, and instructional formats, all slip between abstraction and material reality. Architectural media are imperfect records of worlds, unstable inventories, and double-acts of specification and speculation.

How do these worlds overlap? Who/what gets to be visible or legible, and who/what is excluded from the frame? What counter-practices and alternative knowledges exist?
Media is subjective, partial, and situated.
I am interested in how the most banal spaces, systems, and images of our built environment are already information-rich and operative in the world.

Elevating graphics over statistics, I look to make those more invisible dimensions and politics of space visible through research, design, and narrative.

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Research & exhibition

Supported by RISD Architecture Design Research Seed Fund 2022-23


The built environment is a site of material exchange;  a potential urban mine. Brick, stone, wood, metal, and even excavated soil on construction and demolition (C&D) sites are literally matter out of place — situated somewhere between building and debris, awaiting future harvest.

C&D waste is in fact routinely salvaged, transported, sorted, cleaned, labeled, stored, and recombined for future recirculation. Such laborious local practices exceed the scopes and budgets of construction, yet are crucial in taking stock of an industry overwhelmed by extraction.

Construction has long been known as a growth industry, where material expenditure is geared towards ever greater Gross Domestic Product (GDP). We offer another definition: gross domestic practices (gdp), a total-practice approach that recognizes building maintenance, waste work, eco-services, social relations, and the material limits of growth. gdp stands for a post-extraction world where product is not the key economic driver, but rather, local processes that support the continual unmaking and remaking of the built environment.

A collaboration between Amelyn Ng, Gabriel Vergara and Christine Giorgio. Past related projects include Planetary Home Improvement.

Canadian Centre for Architecture (online) - full text link

Venice Biennale 2023 Luxembourg Pavilion - link
File Name: Unsettling the Ground
Logged by: Amelyn Ng

Invited research contribution to "Down to Earth": Luxembourg Pavilion, 18th Venice Biennale 2023
“A perverted material library by Lev Bratishenko, Francelle Cane, Anastasia Kubrak, Jane Mah Hutton, Marija Marić, Amelyn Ng, Bethany Rigby, and Fred Scharmen.”

How to: mind the moon is the result of a 2-week research workshop organized by the Luxembourg Pavilion (curated by Francelle Cane and Marija Marić) with the Canadian Centre for Architecture (Lev Bratishenko). (I was one of five researchers invited to look at the moon’s materialities critically, against the grain of space extraction.) The outcome of the workshop — a material library — was exhibited as part of the exhibition Down to Earth at the 2023 Luxembourg Pavilion in Sale d’Armi, Arsenale di Venezia for the 18th Venice Biennale.

The material library “offers another way of reading five lunar materials: regolith, lunar dust, solar wind, seconal sodium, and aluminium. A perversion of the format of a material sample and datasheet—technical documents commonly used in material science to describe chemical and mechanical properties of materials—the workshop outlines another kind of material library, that which goes beyond the perceived scientific neutrality of materials. Instead, it frames the political, social, environmental, and cultural conditions of materials, both as a physical matter and a form of fiction.” (CCA)

Contribution: Lunar Dust entry & ‘Dust Spill’ sample
Photo 1 by Anita Cariolaro
Photos 2,3,4,5 by Antoine Espinasseau

Exhibition and research project
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Planetary Home Improvement: From Just-in-time to Geological Time
VI PER Gallery, Prague
December 17, 2021 — February 2, 2022

Partially funded by the 2021-22 RISD Professional Development Fund
The home improvement store is a geological site on demand. Rockwool, Sheetrock, Quikrete Stucco. Materials are processed into products, packaged, stockpiled, stacked, and sold across global DIY supply-chains, from Home Depot to Bauhaus and OBI. Basalt, gypsum, limestone. Material economies are severed from mineral entanglements with millennia of rock, fossil, plant, and stone. It takes 1 day to install drywall; it takes 299 million years to form gypsum.

What planetary urgencies, temporalities and extractions undergird products of just-in-time geology? Rewriting shelf life and collapsing the ancient and the instant, this research project takes stock of the terrestrial home via the big-box DIY store, as the home improvement industry continues to boom and propagate rocks in anthropo-convenient forms. The store is the modern quarry. This exhibition examines the geological life of product accumulation, installation, and instruction through both physical and digital gallery artifacts. If the Eames’s Powers of Ten organized the universe by relative scale, Planetary Home Improvement redesignates its earthly substrates by relative temporality—from the planet to the point of sale.

The exhibition includes a stratigraphic stack wall of reused local materials, a geological soundscape, deep section drawings, a tabletop palindrome How-to video, DIY unbuilding instruction sheets, and a slow-scrolling website.

Co-designers: Christine Giorgio, Amelyn Ng, Gabriel Vergara
Collaborating composer: Nathan Davis
Graduate assistants: Remi Qiu, Ellie Cody, Sarah Chriss, Carrie Li

Full credits here

Print & online
press -npr 21.02.08
Stay-at-home Stress: A spatial survey of low-income households in Houston’s Fifth Ward during COVID-19
Grant funded by Rice  COVID Research Fund, 2020
COVID-19 stay-at-home orders have disproportionately disrupted the domestic lives of Houston households, particularly low-income families with children. This pilot study of sixteen qualitative interviews identifies  spatial, social, and environmental impacts on daily home life during and after the stay-at-home order period.

Taking a local approach, the project collaborated with the Center for Urban Transformation (CUT) to connect with families in Houston’s Greater Fifth Ward. The spatial survey and research hopes to provide local organizations, community homebuilders, and broader research community with qualitative feedback on Fifth Ward residents’ existing home conditions, site concerns, and domestic experiences under COVID-19 circumstances.

Related work:

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press - Urban Edge
Uneven Runoff
Grant funded by the Diluvial Houston Initiative (Andrew W. Mellon Foundation funding), Rice University, 2020-21
Uneven Runoff seeks to investigate the uneven geographies of industrial pollution and flood risk in Harris County. The research project uses GIS and open-source urban data to map relations between former and current industrial sites and Houston’s most flood-vulnerable neighborhoods.

Map layers include industrial parcels, impervious surface density, drainage types, FEMA floodplains vs Hurricane Harvey modeled flood extents, water wells, and type and volume of chemical releases to waterways since 1987. These datasets are visualized and combined in an interactive public webmap for communities and local organizations to explore (typically opaque) industrial data in one’s own neighborhood.

This project is the collective research effort of Rae Atkinson, Mike Wissner, and myself (combining backgrounds in data science, geography and architecture), in partnership with local organization Texas Health and Environment Alliance (THEA) and Rice University’s Spatial Studies Lab.

© 2022 Amelyn Ng