The Open Workshop is an architectural urbanism practice that focuses on the relation between form and territory. Specifically, the firm is interested in the agency of form to impact political, economic, and ecological systems. Using a trans-scalar approach to design research, the office straddles the line between permanence and ephemerality, control and choice, legibility and illegibility, the individual and collective, determinacy and indeterminacy, figure and field. Its name is a reference to Umberto Eco’s 1962 treatise The Open Work, and its goal is to evolve Eco’s concept into architecture by expanding the subject to include the pluralistic public realm and to transform environmental context. In 2016 The Open Workshop was awarded the Architectural League Young Architects Prize as well as the Emerging Leaders Award from DesignIntelligence.
Neeraj Bhatia is a licensed architect and urban designer from Toronto and the founder of The Open Workshop. His work resides at the intersection of politics, infrastructure, and urbanism. He is an assistant professor at California College of the Arts, where he also codirects the Urban Works Agency research lab. Prior to CCA, Bhatia held teaching positions at Cornell University, Rice University, and the University of Toronto. Select distinctions include the Emerging Leaders Award from DesignIntelligence, Graham Foundation grants, the Lawrence B. Anderson Award, a Shell Center for Sustainability grant, the Odebrecht first prize award for sustainability, an ACSA Faculty Design Award, and the Fulbright Fellowship. He coedited the books Bracket [Takes Action] (Actar, 2019), The Petropolis of Tomorrow (Actar, 2013), Bracket [Goes Soft] (Actar, 2012), and Arium: Weather + Architecture (DAP, 2010), and coauthored Pamphlet Architecture 30: Coupling—Strategies for Infrastructural Opportunism (Princeton Architectural Press, 2011). He received a master’s degree in architecture and urbanism from MIT and a bachelor of environmental studies and bachelor of architecture from the University of Waterloo.