History and Critical Thinking provides a platform for critical enquiry into theoretical debates and forms of architectural and urban practice. The aim is three-fold: to connect contemporary arguments and projects with a wider historical, cultural and political context; to produce a knowledge which will relate to design and public cultures in architecture; and to enquire into new forms of knowledge, research and practice.
Central to the 12-month programme is an emphasis on writing as a practice of thinking. Different forms of writing such as essays, reviews, short commentaries, publications and interviews allow students to engage with diverse forms of enquiry and articulate the various aspects of their study.
A common concern of the different courses is the relations of theoretical debates to particular projects and practices in order to develop a critical view of the arguments put into the design and the knowledge produced through its mechanisms and effects. To this aim, the programme is also involved with design work produced in the school through joint events with Diploma units, and HCT students act as jurors during reviews.
The programme also provides research facilities and supervision to research degree candidates (MPhil and PhD) registered under the AA’s joint PhD programme, a cross-disciplinary initiative supported by all of the graduate programmes.
The Post-Eurocentric City
This seminar series seeks to articulate the theoretical conjunctions of the contemporary city. It analyses the links between the transformations in international and sub-state polities, processes of institutional change and the material structures of human environments.
HCT Debates: City, Politics and Spaces
Marina Lathouri, John Palmesino, Douglas Spencer
Many of the emerging urban formations and forms of urbanity are partially or completely novel institutional orders or systems of relations. Would that mean that the emerging spaces are also spaces for a new politics? Is it possible to proceed through a critical body of architectural references, existing or to be constituted, in order to rethink urban space and the communal? These are some of the questions that will be addressed in the debates with invited architects, critics and artists.
Pedro Ignacio Alonso
This one-week workshop investigates the contemporary notion of ‘fabrication’ and how it has come to acquire the status that the notion of ‘construction’ had in accounts of modern architecture.
TERM 3 Thesis Research Seminar
The thesis is the most significant component of the students’ work. The choice of topic, the organisation of the field of research and the development of the central argument are discussed within the Research Seminar where students learn about the nature of a dissertation from the shared experience of the group. The unit trip that takes place in the third term also includes intensive sessions to help students clarify their thesis. At the end of term, the work in progress is individually presented to a jury of invited critics.
TERM 4 In Term 4 the students complete the writing of their thesis to be submitted in September.
Marina Lathouri studied architecture and philosophy of art and aesthetics. She has taught at the University of Pennsylvania and since 1999 has been teaching at the AA and Cambridge University. She is visiting professor at the Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile in Santiago and the Universidad de Navarra in Spain. She has published widely and most recently co-authored The Intimate Metropolis: Urban Subjects in the Modern City (Routledge).
Mark Cousins is director of History and Theory Studies in the undergraduate school and guest professor at South Eastern University, Nanjing. He was a founding member of the London Consortium. He has been a member of the Visual Arts Panel and of the Architectural Panel of the Arts Council. He published (with Athar Hussein) Michel Foucault (McMillan). He has published widely in the human sciences, including October, Harvard Design Review, AA Files, etc. He has written catalogues for the Wilson twins and Anthony Gormley.
John Palmesino has been Head of Research at ETH Studio Basel and is currently Research Advisor at the Jan Van Eyck Academie, Maastricht and Diploma Unit Master at the AA. He also teaches at the Research Architecture Centre at Goldsmiths, London. He co-founded Territorial Agency with Ann-Sofi Rönnskog.
Douglas Spencer has studied architectural history, cultural studies and critical theory. His research and writing on urbanism, architecture, film and critical theory has been published in journals including The Journal of Architecture, Radical Philosophy and AA Files.
Thomas Weaver works at the Architectural Association as editor of AA Files. He has previously edited ANY magazine in New York and has taught architectural history and theory at Princeton University and the Cooper Union.
Pedro Ignacio Alonso studied architecture at the Universidad Católica de Chile and completed his PhD at the Architectural Association. He has taught at the AA and worked for Arup’s Urban Design. He is currently directing the graduate programme in History and Design at the Universidad Católica de Chile.
Mario Carpo is Vincent Scully Visiting Professor of Architectural History at Yale University. His research and publications focus on the relationship between architectural theory, cultural history and the history of media and information technology. His publications include The Alphabet and the Algorithm (MIT Press, 2011) and Architecture in the Age of Printing (MIT Press, 2001)
Second Class Honours or above degree in architecture or a related discipline from a British university, or an overseas qualification of equivalent standard (from a course no less than three years in a university or educational institution of university rank).