Behnaz Assadi is a landscape designer and a founding partner at Ja Architecture Studio. She is currently an Assistant Professor at the John H. Daniels Faculty of Architecture, Landscape and Design at the University of Toronto.
Behnaz is interested in the unpredictability and open-endedness of landscape processes, large-scale interconnected ecological systems, and multi-scalar resilient design approaches that aim to mitigate the effect of climate change. Her work explores the agency of landscape architecture beyond disciplinary confines. Her current multi-disciplinary practice, professional experience at offices such as OMA, and her educational background, all provide her with a level of versatility and comfort in crossing traditional disciplinary boundaries to teach and practice in both landscape architecture and architecture.
In her teaching, Behnaz uses line drawings as a precise medium that combines the conventions of architectural detail drawings with the anatomical qualities of historic botanical illustrations. This creates a seamless continuity across the tectonic and the natural but also allows the medium to represent, investigate, and navigate the complexities of ecological processes with its spatial and temporal qualities. It is only through this meticulous exploration that the medium becomes; ‘The Language of Landscape’. Over the past several years, she has been teaching and coordinating two of the foundational core studios in the MLA program in the first and fourth semesters, as well as a number of graduate and undergraduate courses in both architecture and landscape architecture departments at Daniels.
Her practice Ja Architecture Studio, a Toronto-based practice, combines the rootedness of a local design firm with the broad interests of an international design studio whose work considers global themes. At Ja, Behnaz situates the studio’s architectural interest in iconography, geometry, form, and tectonic pursuits within the broader context of landscape, ecology, and climate change. The studio has achieved a repertoire of built works, research projects, and award-winning competition entries. The latter includes Bauhaus Museum in Dessau (2015); Guggenheim in Helsinki (2015), Kaunas Concert Center (2017); three Canadian Architects Awards (2015, 2018 & 2020) and most recently a winner in the 68th Annual Progressive Architecture Awards (2021). Ja’s work has been published widely and exhibited both nationally and internationally.
Behnaz holds a Master of Landscape Architecture from University of Toronto and a bachelor’s degree in fine arts from University of Tehran.