One hundred years ago, just as the idea of an experimental, progressive architectural education came into being, architecture began imagining and then building a truly modern world. In the autumn of 1914, a young Swiss architect moved to Paris, renamed himself Le Corbusier and began, through a series of essays, images and ideas, initiated a body of work that went on to give authentic form to the twentieth century. That he was invited to Bedford Square by AA students 40 years later as a venerated Old Master says something profound about architecture's perpetual revolution – Le Corbusier himself began his AA lecture with the memorable line, 'I detest talk about architecture', before delivering a two-hour monologue on exactly that: modern architecture's own enduring promise.
Today, a century after the towering achievements of Mies, Le Corbusier and their generation of avant-garde modernist pioneers, the circumstances of architecture's continuing revolution are weirder, wilder and more unpredictable than ever. That's the reality a new age of architectural believers faces today, as a global generation of restless architectural experimentalists find themselves at the threshold of yet another moment of disciplinary self- awareness and reinvention. However, this time around such a project is even more necessary.
With this Prospectus I am pleased to present the very project hinted at above – of modern architecture's ongoing evolution and the challenges architects face today – as the backdrop to this year's teaching and learning at the AA. This year's multi-volume Prospectus embodies the qualities of the world's most unique school of architecture, which itself is part of a worldwide association of members and home to a programme of remarkable public events. Each of the six self-contained books that make up the Prospectus offers an introduction and synopsis of one of these many dimensions.
Whether read while looking out from one of the orderly windows that makes up the facade of our Georgian houses on Bedford Square; or under the canopy of trees in the working woodland of Hooke Park, our home in Dorset; or from within the packed design studios or public forums organised by a Visiting School programme now spanning more than 50 cities, landscapes and other terrains, what follows is a glimpse into an architecture school like no other – made up of diverse unit and programme studios, public galleries, dozens of lectures, exhibitions and publications, as well as archives, libraries, workshops and the countless moments of spontaneous revolution that take place at the AA everyday. This is the who, what and where we are. This section provides a brief introduction and overview to AA life – from our renowned unit system of teaching and programme agendas to the public lectures, symposia, trips and projects that make up the year ahead.