400 years, 39 000 voyages, 2 million bodies under the Atlantic Ocean.

The word ‘home’ in diaspora theory is described in three ways:

  • Having multiple homes and belongings
  • The question of where are you from and where are you at
  • Possessing an imagination, connection and longing for the homeland from the host land

How much do you weigh is a historical exploration, reimagination and reconstruction of one of the many diasporic typologies of Home.

This altered wall surface, a form of the ‘Door of no Return’, references the weight passage found in castle and fort typologies along the West African Coast, historically used as trading posts. Slaves were required to force their bodies through an extremely narrow opening, in order to determine whether they were thin enough, starved enough and therefore light enough to be loaded onto the ship before embarking on the journey through the middle passage.

Push, drag, dig, thrust. This piece offers a new reading of history, memory and of Architecture through the imprinting, force and power of the body onto Architecture.


This piece is extracted from my Architectural thesis titled ‘Casablanca: The Port of Homes’ which explores, reconstructs and suggests several possibilities of what the Moroccan Diasporic Home could be. Casablanca is comprised of three parts – a series of performances, an accompanying set of scripts, and a Compendium of Home. How much do you weigh is an altered wall surface embedded into the Architecture in my thesis project.

Heidi Lu Headshot

Heidi Lu

Heidi Lu is a recent Architectural Master’s graduate from the Graduate School of Architecture, at the University of Johannesburg.

She was born to a Taiwanese father and an Indian mother and has adopted the role of Time traveller, Choreographer and Architect in her work. Her personal mixed heritage has given rise to her interests in the trans- Saharan and trans- Atlantic slave trades and their subsequent development of race, hybrid cultures, identities, and questions of ‘What is and Where is the diasporic Home?’. 

The writing and archiving of history have always been curated and recorded by those in positions of power and so she uses time travel as a speculative device, situating her work in a period between the past and the present in order to depict alternative narratives.

She draws on Juhani Pallasmaa’s tools for memory, which are tied to the haptic, the performed, the sensory and the felt, the realm of experience rather than relying on the visual alone and so her work both references and engages with the human body.

Her work moves between narrative, choreography, collage, montage, models, performance, and film.

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