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Nashin Mahtani

humanitarian designer
architect | theorist | activist | artist  
 
thinking about
 
knowledge infrastructures
ecological governance 
community empowerment 
behavioral subjectivities
living kindly and well 

Nashin Mahtani is currently the director of Yayasan Peta Bencana (Disaster Map Foundation), a South-East Asian based non-profit organization developing software infrastructures for community-led disaster co-management. She co-led the expansion of the life-saving plaform PetaBencana.id, from a real-time flood mapping platform serving 50 million people in Indonesia to a multi-hazard mapping platform serving over 350 million people in South East Asia. Supporting the development of one of the largest open source software projects for climate adaptation, her activism is dialectically driven by theory, scholarship and anthropology. With a background in architecture, Nashin’s applied and research investigations center around water polities and infrastructures, communication and media philosophies, and epigenetic adaptations. She is also principal co-investigator of MERA, a research and design collective investigating the future articulation of governance structures foregrounded in ecological homeostasis. 

In 2021 she was recognized by Forbes Asia 30 Under 30 for her contributions to the region's social issues. Nashin was also one of five global semi-finalists for the prestigious Global Citizen Prize: Cisco Youth Leadership Award in 2019, listed as a Southeast Asian Women Leader by YSEALI in 2020, and recognized as a Women Innovator by the Information Society Innovation Fund in 2018. 
 

Nashin’s written, design, and film work, has been widely published in numerous journals and exhibited across various international venues. She is a frequent speaker and presenter, and continues to be engaged as a guest lecturer with schools and universities including the Royal College of Art (London), McGill University (Montreal), University of Waterloo (Waterloo), Institut Teknologi Bandung (Bandung), UNNES, UNTAR, among others.

 

Nashin previously worked as a designer & researcher with the Urban Risk Lab at MIT, and as a research assistant at the University of Waterloo School of Architecture where she contributed to projects focusing on flood risk mitigation. She completed her Masters of Architecture (M.Arch '15) and Bachelors of Architectural Studies (BAS '14) at the University of Waterloo, Canada. She has previously worked as an architect in New York, Los Angeles, Miami, & Toronto. 

Architectural framework

I have come to understand architecture as primarily a communications infrastructure; a practice of framing social, spatial, and environmental relations that structure the means of co-constructing the world.

 

Through experimenting with various forms of communication - including writing, graphic communication, interface design, film, installation, memes, and curatorial narratives - I strive to create affectual environments that develop contextual and conceptual frameworks to support collaborative practices of care. 

 

I strive to explore how the discipline may harness the new perspectives, forms of spatiality, and topological relations afforded by computational infrastructures to draw creative lines of intensity among increasingly multiplous and intertwined urban layers and epistemologies, in order to allow for unforeseen relationships and experiences to emerge.  I strive to explore new types of multi disciplinary urban practices and structures of collaboration, to explore expanded repertoires of urban intervention, and expand the capacities for perspectival world making. 

 

As I currently experiment with interface design as an urban force (structuring social and material exchanges), but also as a epistemological modulator (in its capacities to shift perceptions, attitudes, and behaviours, that necessarily act back on urban space), I am increasingly interested in the relationships between technical, architectural, biological, and social structures and the opportunities to design transversally with and among the interstices of these urban layers.