Landscape Urbanism MA Silvia Ribot, Lida Driva and Dimitra Bra - cartography depicting the intersection of the Arga and Aragon rivers- geomorphological and social formations leading a new proposed territorial organisation in the Spanish region of Navarre

Directors Alfredo Ramirez, Eduardo Rico Design Tutor Clara Oloriz Sanjuan, Seminar Tutors Douglas Spencer, Tom Smith, Technical Tutors Giancarlo Torpiano, Gustavo Romanillos, Vincenzo Reale


12 months


16 months

Landscape Urbanism explores the emergence of ‘territory’ as a field of design praxis. Through this lens the programme environments not as discrete independent collections of objects, but as interconnected landscapes with both far-reaching implications on not only the environment - ie, climate change, energy debates and wide-spread pollution - but also on social and political spheres. The course combines material explorations of landscape evolution (facilitated by digital simulations) with the development of critical perspectives and studio work. It is aimed at professionals - architects, landscape architects, engineers, urban planners and geographers - who are engaged with territorial disciplines.

A Pan-European Atlas of Radical Cartographies

The current production of treaties, networks, government plans and other local policies and agreements with the potential to impact specific geographies has come out of the high demand for synchronised responses and projects at the scale of territory. But given the potential impact on the spaces they address, these formal interventions are rarely seen as opportunities for research-led design projects. It is in this rift - between utilitarian and cultural practices of European policies - that Landscape Urbanism aims to locate a space for research. For the third year the course will explore how productive and natural formations can generate the basis of a pan-European project of territories that are neither generic nor iconic, conventional nor touristic.
The course is instead concerned with both the geomorphological formations of land and the actual cultural, political and economic forces that shape them socially. The primary outcome of these concerns is the production of a set of radical and experimental cartographies to form a Pan-European Atlas as the basis of new forms of documenting the future of European environments. These cartographies are seen as projective machines with the capacity to unveil the glitches between conflicting systems at stake - tectonic landscapes, political governance, land administration and their material and spatial organisation - to put forward projects and design proposals, from the territorial to architectural, as future alternatives.

Course Methodology

Territorial Formations Terms, 1 and 2
During the first two terms Landscape Urbanism weaves together research into geomorphological processes, social structures and design intentions to explore the idea of a necessary synthesis - a utilitarian-forced hybridisation that imagines new forms of territory where physical and social processes are transformed into new spatial conditions. These will draw upon the historically established capacity of landscapes to host and modulate the struggles between physical/environmental and human forces within specific geographical/geological points in space and time.

Cartogenesis, Term 2
The assemblages of geomorphological processes and social formations will be retraced and redescribed in light of historical and contemporary forms of cartographic representation. This will serve as the basis for describing territorial space in architectural terms, as well as a territorial description of architectural space. The aim of this term is the generation of an atlas of similar and relevant territories across Europe, tracing the geographies of the pan-European problematic posed by the social and geomorphological formations outlined and research by the student.

Tectonic Grounds / Territorial Documentation, Terms 3 and 4
The final section of the course will consist of the exploration of modes of documentation that extend, beyond the idea of the fixity and stability of masterplanning, to operate projectively and subversively. Following the development of an Atlas, students will produce a territorial manual describing the procedures and guidelines behind their projects in order to extrapolate principles to similar locations across European territories.

Course Components

Landscript, Workshop, Term 1
An introduction to software programming will enable students to script basic procedural modelling and understand how physical interactions of materials and processes produce recognisable morphologies. The use of relevant software, such as GIS, Phyton, Rhino as well as land form modelling will be used to exercise students’ capacity to introduce intention and design criteria in decision-making processes.

Landform Dynamics, Lecture Series, Term 1
Directly linked to the Landscript workshop, this series of lectures will address territorial formation processes. The sessions will
be presented by engineers and scientists currently researching the use of computational tools in the study of geomorphology.

Social Formations, Workshop, Term 2
This workshop explores processes of social formation. Students investigate how groups, such as trade unions, guilds and cartels, have historically organised themselves into productive communities. These findings will then be diagrammed and applied to design projects.

Landscape Urbanism Core Seminar, Terms 1 and 2
This seminar series is taught alongside the studio, where questions of process, matter, becoming and objecthood are set alongside landscape and urban modelling, thus forming a means for discussing design and territorial concerns.

LU History and Theory Seminar Series: Models, Methods and Histories, Term 1
This lecture and seminar-based unit is concerned with how the intersections of landscape and urbanism have been thought, modelled, designed and analysed. It is designed to provide students with an understanding of the potentials and problematics of Landscape Urbanism.

Cartogenesis Workshop, Term 2
The workshop will generate a series of cartographical representations of the projects with the aim of drafting a cartogenetic manifesto that declares the pan-European intentions of the project.

LU History and Theory Seminar Series: The Rhetoric of Mapping, Term 2
This seminar explores the ways in which maps authorise and contest territorial claims, construct forms of knowledge, project certain scenarios and operations and reveal political, social, economic and cultural processes. The conception of cartography as a form of argumentation will support and inform design practice in the making of the manifesto and in the final thesis.

Machining Landscapes Seminar, Terms 2 and 3
The lecture series introduces construction techniques related to the design of landscape projects that adopt a ‘machinic’ ethos to technical practice.

This seminar integrates knowledge, principles of a range
of construction techniques related to the design of landscape projects to understand, consider and address the complexity of the relations among contemporary urban dynamics, adopting a ‘machinic’ ethos to technical practice.

Unit Staff

Alfredo Ramirez is an architect and director of Groundlab where he has won and developed several competitions, workshops, exhibitions and projects. He is Director of the AA Visiting School in Mexico City and has taught workshops and lectured internationally on the topic of landscape urbanism and the work of Groundlab.

Eduardo Rico studied civil engineering in Spain and graduated from the AA’s Landscape Urbanism programme. He has been a consultant and researcher in the fields of infrastructure and landscape in Spain and the UK. Currently he is working within the Arup engineering team as well as being part of Relational Urbanism. He has taught at Harvard GSD and the Berlage Institute.

Clara Oloriz Sanjuan is a practising architect who received her PhD from the ETSA Universidad de Navarra and the AA. She has worked for Foreign Office Architects, Cerouno, Plasma Studio and Groundlab. She teaches at the University of Navarra and is co-director of the AA Visiting School in Bilbao. She co-directs an AA research cluster titled Urban Prototypes.

Douglas Spencer has studied design and architectural history, cultural studies, critical theory and has taught at a number of architectural schools. His research and writing have been published in journals including The Journal of Architecture, Radical Philosophy, AA Files and Culture Machine. He is currently researching for a book that formulates a Marxian critique of contemporary architecture and ‘control society’.

Tom Smith is a landscape architect and urban designer. He worked at EDAW AECOM on projects such as the masterplan for the Chelsea Flower Show and developments in rural communities in Portugal. He was instrumental in the design of the London 2012 Olympic and Legacy Masterplan and is currently focusing developing the practice of SpaceHub in London.

Giancarlo Torpiano completed his Bachelors in Architecture and Structural Engineering at the University of Malta and holds an MArch in Emergent Technologies and Design from the AA. His main interests are algorithmic design focused on emergent behaviours, natural structures, structural engineering and computational techniques. He has led workshops on digital architecture in Malta and at the AA.

Gustavo Romanillos is an architect and researcher interested in the spatial analysis of urban and territorial dynamics. He completed his degree in Architecture at the ETSAM, and a Masters in Geographic Information Technologies at the UCM. His research and teaching activities are being developed in different Spanish universities, Nicaragua and the UK.

Vincenzo Reale graduated in 2010 from the University of Bologna (MA Building Engineering and Architecture) and has been a Euro-chartered engineer since 2011. He holds an MSc in Emergent Technologies and Design from the AA.

Programme site


Graduate Admissions Team AA School of Architecture
36 Bedford Square
London WC1B 3ES

T: 020 7887 4067 / 4007

Links & Downloads


Prospectus 2015-16
Foundation Course Booklet

Graduate Prospectus

Travel Insurance Booking Form


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