CCA-WRI Research Fellowship Program

Above/Below/Between: Light on a Damaged Planet

The recognition of the manifold meanings and architectural mediations of light, which are becoming only more salient in our era of ecological crises, is common to both the CCA and the Window Research Institute. This emergent ecological reality is creating new practices, designs, and other social and material manifestations of architectural design that are above, below, and between; atmospheric, underground, and attentive to increasingly damaged landscapes all around us. Whether through increased average temperatures, more prevalent drought patterns, or sea level rise, light on this damaged planet is materially responsive to our human-impacted ecosystem. Apertures condense and make palpable this source of light and the need to question its root causes.

This affinity has led to our working with the WRI to jointly provide conditions for deep inquiries into the phenomenon of light. This collaboration represents a new model of fellowship for the CCA; whereas our institution observes an ever-expanding array of architectural subjects, the WRI holds a specific focus on light and windows, in their technological, cultural, and societal dimensions.

The second iteration of the CCA-WRI Research Fellowship Program Above/Below/Between: Light on a Damaged Planet continues to seek to understand architecture’s varied relationships to the changing material constitution of the light spectrum. In 2023 we will welcome three CCA-WRI Fellows for periods of research of up to three months, with Fellows’ turning their attention to the second element in the diffusion of light across our solar societies: below, and the underground with its relative absence of light. The design of underground spaces, whether for retail, data storage, safety from warfare and climate disaster, is an ongoing concern. The CCA holds a unique collection of materials related to the Underground Space Center (USC) at the University of Minnesota. The USC, founded in 1978, was dedicated to the study of ‘earth-shelters’ as a response to the 1970s oil crisis and the need for more efficient means to heat and cool domestic environments. This is one entry point into an array of CCA Collection materials that can articulate how contemporary experiences of solar damage extend into the history of design.

While 2023 Fellows may focus on the underground as a space of experimentation, future domesticity, and/or extraction, we welcome applications that address a range of topics, particularly those that take the theme of damaged light and solarity as a social condition more broadly in new directions:

• The underground and expanded definitions of ‘shelter’
• Underground urbanisms (in relation to density, climate, real estate speculation, etc)
• The underground and anti-verticality
• Underground spaces and nostalgia/disuse/retreat/illicitness
• Solar design, particularly as a material
• Light as a form of social capital
• Solar landscapes, whether dry, arid, or desert
• Luminescence as a historical, geographical, and social process

The Program

CCA-WRI Fellows are offered a residency at the CCA between June and October, for a period of one to three months. Each Fellow will have access to a private office and receive a monthly stipend of CAD 5,000, as well as additional financial support for travel expenses. In addition to a public presentation of their work-in-progress, Fellows are expected to participate in discussions, seminars, and workshops organized at the CCA, exchange with CCA staff, and engage with the local academic and architectural community.

The jury members for this edition of the CCA-WRI Research Fellowship Program are: Giovanna Borasi (CCA Director), Rafico Ruiz (CCA Associate Director, Research), Yoshiharu Tsukamoto (Co-Founder of Atelier Bow-Wow/Professor, Tokyo Institute of Technology/WRI Board of Directors Member), and Jungyoon Kim (Assistant Professor of Landscape Architecture, Harvard GSD) .


The call for applications is now closed. The next call for the 2024 CCA-WRI Research Fellowship Program will be issued in July 2023.

For questions regarding the program, please contact

For updates on the CCA-WRI Research Fellowship Program, please subscribe to the CCA newsletter.

CCA-WRI Research Fellows 2023

Andrea Dutto
RWTH Aachen University
“Earth-Shelter Builders and the Code”

Oxana Gourinovitch
RWTH Aachen University
“The Subdued State: The Under- and Overground Built Environments of the Uranium Industries in the GDR”

Tomomi Miyata
Tokyo Institute of Technology
“Visual Function in Earth shelters from the View Point of Emergency Sustainability”

Past editions

CCA-WRI Research Fellowship Program 2022

Casper Laing Ebbensgaard
University of East Anglia
“Geographies of dangerous attachments: the vertical axis of illumination”

Alina Nazmeeva
Massachusetts Institute of Technology
“Made of Sunshine: Urban Commons and Real Estate, Montreal, Canada”

Jessica Vaughn
Temple University
“Working Skill Sets”


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