The Technical Studies programme stands as a complete and coherent technical education over five years, and constructs a creative collaboration with the material demands of individual unit agendas. The programme continues to evolve from detailed discussions with lecturers, all of whom are drawn from leading engineering practices and research institutions embracing a wide range of disciplines and current projects. It is founded on the provision of a substantial knowledge base, developed through case studies of contemporary fabrication processes, constructed artefacts and buildings. These studies include critical reflection and experimentation with the ideas and techniques taught. Knowledge acquired in this way generates a ‘means’, a set of principles capable of negotiating the technical requirements of construction in unforeseen futures and unpredictable contexts. Lecture courses form a portion of each year’s requirements, with a particular emphasis on the First, Second and Fourth Years of study. Students concentrate on case studies, analysis and material experiments, undertaking a selection of required courses, ensuring they receive a complete and all-round experience of structures, materials and the environment. In the Third Year, lecture coursework, workshop experiments and technical ambitions are synthesised in a detailed Technical Design Project (TS3). Students conduct design research and experiments to explore and resolve the technical issues of the main project of their unit portfolio, with the guidance of Technical Studies tutors. In the Fifth Year, students undertake a Technical Design Thesis (TS5), a substantial individual work that is developed under the guidance of Technical Studies. The thesis is contextualised as part of a broader dialogue which the technical and the architectural agendas that arise within the units. Its critical development is pursued through case studies, material experiments and extensive research and consultation. In both the Third and Fifth Years students are provided with options for interim reviews and final document submission that both unit tutors, technical tutors and each student agree upon. The aim is to integrate technical work within the unit agendas as much as possible, and by supporting it with additional specialised information by means of seminars, lectures and site visits. This ambition is tailored to the individual student and the programme attempts to be flexible in a way that can deal with the varying design agendas of each unit. Full details of the programme will be found in the Complementary Studies Course booklet, which will be available at the beginning of the academic year.
First Year Compulsory Course
Ben Godber and David Illingworth
This course aims to equip students with the skills to critically engage with existing buildings and works of architecture through the examination of structure. The year will be divided into groups, with each group being assigned a case study building in London. As such, London will be our principal teaching resource. Students will be encouraged to get under the skin of their case study buildings, to see them ‘in the flesh’, to draw them, to conduct research into them, to produce physical models and, above all, to ask questions. What loads is the building subject to? Why this particular geometry? Why was this material chosen? How was it constructed? Weekly lectures given by the course tutors aim to provide students with a sound qualitative understanding and appreciation of fundamental structural principles: forces and loads; form and geometry; and mechanics of materials. The course will conclude with each group of students presenting their case study to their peers along with the submission of a brief written report.
First Year Compulsory Course Term 2
Giles Bruce and Kori Kromm
Ben Godber, Marissa Kretsch and Manja van de Worp
Nacho Martí and Evan Greenberg
The purpose of this course is to offer students a more direct hands-on experimental approach that will allow a greater integration of Technical Studies with the First Year design portfolio. Technical Studies tutors (experts on structures, materials and environmental issues) will join First Year studio tutors. Seven separate briefs will cover three areas – structure, materials and environment. The submission for the course will be made as part of the TS workshop during Week 11 of Term 2 and will be assessed by the TS tutors in the presence of the First Year studio tutors. Intermediate School The TS requirements for AA Intermediate and RIBA Part I is that each student has to undertake and pass the Structures, Material and Technologies and Environmental Design in Practice courses in the Second Year and the Structures course in Term 1 of the Third Year. In addition to this the Third Year students undertake a Technical Design Project (TS3) as part of their main project, which synthesises their individual architectural ambitions with an account of the material production of the proposal.
2nd Year Compulsory Course
Phil Cooper and Anderson Inge
This course aims to develop a feel for forces in structures through a series of lectures and student presentations that investigate how the structural elements of a building carry a load. We will analyse well-known buildings to show how strength and safety can be predicted by calculation. In addition to making physical models and load-testing them to illustrate deformation and failure, we will find idealised conceptual models to demonstrate structural behaviour, focusing on the stability of the whole building structure. We will also examine how forces create stresses and deformations in architectural structures, taking into account material properties.
Material and Technologies
2nd Year Compulsory Course
This course will investigate a range of materials used in contemporary structures including concrete, timber, brick and blocks, glass, fabrics and composites. Material properties, methods of manufacture, durability, cost and appearance are significant factors that will be reviewed, leading to an understanding of how different materials can be used in a variety of applications.
Environmental Design in Practice
2nd Year Compulsory Course
‘We all know environmental design is important – but we just can’t see how it is relevant to our studio work.’ This course aims to challenge this sentiment by showing how every design decision that architects make has an immediate and quantifiable impact in terms of environmental performance. The course provides students with an intuitive grasp of the underlying principles of environmental design and the creative opportunities these present in terms of architectural form, materiality and expression. Above all, the course aims to eliminate the temptation of ‘greenwash’ from studio design work by providing students with analytical techniques to test and validate their environmental hypotheses.
3rd Year Compulsory Course
Phil Cooper and Anderson Inge
This course introduces structural model analysis, inviting students to make and test scale models to predict the static and dynamic behaviour of structures under load. The theory and practice of the effects of scale will become obvious from the model testing, promoting better intuition for predicting the behaviour of real, full-size structures. Analytical skills will be applied to make predictions. The observed behaviour of physical models under load will be used to establish the parameters of a detailed digital model that a computer can analyse.
3rd Year Technical Design Project (TS3)
Kenneth Fraser with Christina Doumpioti, Wolfgang Frese, Clive Fussell, Pablo Gugel and Manja van de Worp
Third year students undertake a comprehensive design study (TS3) that explores and resolves the central technical issues of their projects in collaboration with individual unit agendas. The study records the strategic technical decisions made as the design is developed, integrating knowledge of the environmental context, use of materials, structural forms and processes of assembly. It also documents the research carried out in the process of developing the design project. The individual projects are developed in conjunction with the unit tutors by means of the support and tutorials with the Intermediate TS Staff under the direction of Kenneth Fraser. Seminars on specific relevant subject are organised by the technical teaching staff and a guest speaker further supports the research.
Fourth Year students choose two courses in Term 2 from the selection on offer and may attend others according to their interests:
Form and Matter
Through the investigation of natural systems, form-finding techniques, smart materials and novel digital fabrication technologies, this course will introduce a new method of design influenced by the embedded intelligence of materials. Case studies will examine the use of traditional materials in both past and contemporary contexts, analysing techniques of assemblage and fabrication while developing an understanding of how common materials can be applied in innovative ways. Using physical formfinding models as well as computational tools to simulate material behaviour, we will approach structures as complex systems emerging from the strong relationship between force, energy and material organisation, resulting in the desired performative and spatial effects. Guest speakers from research and practice will contribute by providing expertise through different scales of material implementation.
Sustainable Urban Design
There is a continuing fascination with the tall and super-tall buildings that define the evolving skylines of the world’s major cities. But can they contribute to a more sustainable future, and what role does environmental engineering play in the design of these towering structures? The course aims to address these questions whilst imparting the fundamental knowledge needed to design tall. We will consider tall buildings in an urban context, the strategic considerations defining form, the impact of climate, the environmental drivers affecting form and fabric, servicing strategies and various approaches to low-energy and sustainable design. Students will have the chance to apply the principles learned from the course by developing a concept for their own tall building.
Process in the Making
This course aims to highlight and explain the complex forces underlying the transformation of architectural designs into built form, joining the processes that link the design of architecture with the ‘art of building’. We will focus on interdisciplinary collaboration since the architect, as lead consultant, has to constantly adjust and evaluate his designs to address these often contradictory forces. Guest speakers from other consultancies will discuss their own perspective on the importance of collaboration within a project team.
Small in Large – the Interrelation of Component and System
The course aims to analyse and classify architectural components as part of larger systems. Due to rationalisation, prefabrication, flexibility, exchangeability and maintenance the use of components in architecture has become very common. We will review existing component-based systems and investigate how advanced technology in the design and fabrication process can be used for redefinition and contemporary interpretation. Further investigation will introduce systems having an individual component that is adaptable and thus turns the whole system into a responsive structure. Invited researchers from different European and American research institutes will present their latest experiments in theory and practice.
Studies in Advanced Structural Design
Structures are complex systems providing strength, stiffness and stability to buildings. This course starts with a brief history of common types of constructions and an analysis of many structural materials, followed by detailed studies of structural principles and forms. The discussion includes the comparison of construction details, buildability issues and other non-structural design challenges. Advanced methods used in structural engineering are introduced and discussed with the students. The assignment for this course requires the analysis of drawings and photographs of an existing building to gain an understanding of its structural principles while also developing alternative concepts of the existing structure. The objective is to make students more aware of structural options and thus more comfortable during the development of their unit project designs and in their future professional endeavours.
Transform – Bridging technologies
Manja van de Worp
This course aims to explore and define methods of transforming a concept into a material. It bridges complexity and simplicity by understanding our own and other fields, making them exist simultaneously. Bridges with fashion, product design, information technology, science and nature bring us new products, systems and processes. We will interrogate their rules and applied methods to be able to not only see what is happening around us in technology, but also to use and apply it within architecture.
Environmental Modelling & Simulation
This hands-on technical course is on the use of environmental design software for the generation and assessment of climate data and the simulation of solar, thermal and lighting processes in and around real or virtual buildings. An introduction to fundamental environmental design parameters is followed by a study of adaptive comfort mechanisms relating to the different climatic, programmatic and operational conditions characterising unit projects. This becomes input for modelling and simulation studies using software aimed at achieving thermal and visual comfort with minimum use of non-renewable energy sources.
Form, Energy and Environment
The course explores design territories where architecture and engineering meet. It examines the links between building form, energy and the micro/ macro environment and reviews the development of the building skin. An investigation of sustainability issues, passive energy and renewable energy sources are examined through real projects that can generate exciting energy solutions. We will examine the application of computer modelling tools for the design of buildings and Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD). Students will complete a project involving research of completed buildings in different climatic zones and can conceive a futuristic building that extends design and social boundaries.
5th Year Technical Design Thesis (TS5)
Javier Castañón with Kenneth Fraser, Mehran Gharleghi, Martin Hagemann, David Illingworth, Nacho Martí and Federico Montella
The Technical Design Thesis is a substantial individual work developed under the guidance of Javier Castañón and the Diploma TS Staff. Tutorial support and guidance is also provided within the unit. The central interests and concerns may emerge from current or past design work, or from one of the many lecture and seminar courses the student has attended in previous years. The Thesis is contextualised as part of a broader dialogue in which the technical and the architectural agendas that arise within the unit are synthesised, and its critical development is pursued through case studies, material experiments and extensive research and consultation. The ultimate aim is for students to materialise the ideas, concepts or ambitions born in the intimacy of their individual unit agendas.
Ian Duncombe is a Director of BDSP Partnership, which he co-founded in 1995. The practice has worked on projects including the Zayed National Museum in Abu Dhabi and 30 St Mary Axe. Current work includes Central Market in Abu Dhabi.
Wolfgang Frese studied at Stuttgart and the Bartlett, UCL. He is an associate at Alsop Architects working on many international projects. Clive Fussell is a chartered structural engineer. He worked at Buro Happold Engineers and in 2010 founded Engenuiti. He studied Engineering Science at Oxford University and graduated from the Interdisciplinary Design for the Built Environment (IDBE) masters degree at the University of Cambridge. He is a member of the Institution of Structural Engineers.
Mehran Gharleghi is an architect, researcher and designer. He received his MArch in Emergent Technologies and Design from the AA and has worked for distinguished architectural practices including Plasma Studio and Foster + Partners. In 2009 he co-founded Studio INTEGRATE with Amin Sadeghy.
Ben Godber is a structural engineer and founding director of Godber & Co. He studied architecture at the Bartlett, UCL and civil engineering at Imperial College. He was an associate at Expedition Engineering and currently teaches at the Bartlett, UCL and The University of Kent.
Evan Greenberg is a researcher and design consultant based in London. He has worked with architects, engineers, artists and fashion designers around the world. He gained his MSc in Emergent Technologies and Design from the AA where he is also a First Year Technical Studies Tutor. He has lectured and taught internationally and was co-director of the AA San Francisco Visiting School from 2009 to 2011.
Pablo Gugel studied architecture at the ETSA of La Coruna and gained his MArch in Sustainable Environmental Design at the AA. He has worked for Diaz & Diaz Arquitectos and Grimshaw Architects, working on projects and competitions in the educational and cultural field around Europe. He currently works as an environmental analyst at BDSP Partnership. Martin Hagemann studied architecture in Germany and Denmark and worked in Vienna and Sydney before coming to London. He worked with Grimshaw’s in London until 2011 and is now director of WHP Architects in Germany. He has taught at the AA since 2008 and previously at UTS Sydney.
David Illingworth is a chartered structural engineer working at Buro Happold. He studied civil and structural engineering at the University of Sheffield and was awarded a Happold Scholarship. He has also tutored at the Welsh School of Architecture and lectured at Imperial College.
Anderson Inge studied architecture at the AA and at the University of Texas at Austin, before completing additional academic trainings in structures (at MIT) and sculpture (at St Martins). He practices in London, and has taught at the Ruskin School at the University of Oxford, Central St Martins, Rural Studio at Auburn University and the Sir John Soane Museum, London.
Marissa Kretsch gained a double degree in civil engineering and history from the University of Melbourne, before joining Arup Melbourne as a structural engineer. She has worked for Buro Happold and Expedition Engineering, while working alongside Renzo Piano Building Workshop.
Korey Kromm obtained his AA Diploma in 2010 and is currently working for Charles Tashima Architecture.
Emanuele Marfisi is a structural engineer with a degree from the University of Florence and a PhD from Cambridge University. He has worked with architects such as Foster, Grimshaw, Hadid, Hopkins and Arad. He is now working for Jacobs Engineering.
Nacho Martí graduated from Elisava School of Design in Barcelona and the Emergent Technologies and Design MSc at the AA. He founded his design studio in 2004 and has directed the Mamori Art Lab design summer workshops. He won the FAD award in 2008 and the IPlus award in 2009.
Federico Montella received his MSc in Sustainable Environmental Design from the AA in 2006 and is currently senior sustainability advisor at HLM Architects.
Manja van de Worp studied at the Technical University of Eindhoven, Holland and the Emergent Technology programme at the AA. She worked for Ove Arup in the Advanced Geometry Unit, and currently works in their AT&R department designing movable structures. She has also taught at the Rietveld Academy in Amsterdam and an AA Visiting School in Tehran.
Simos Yannas has been involved in environmental design research for more than 35 years and has taught and lectured in some 30 countries. His book Roof Cooling Techniques was shortlisted for the RIBA International Book Award for Architecture. In 2001, he was awarded the PLEA (Passive and Low Energy Architecture) International Achievement Award.
Mohsen Zikri is a director of Ove Arup & Partners and a chartered building services engineer, specialising in the environmental design of buildings. He has worked closely with leading architects on notable buildings in the UK and worldwide. He has a particular interest in sustainability in tall buildings and has lectured on that subject.