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Diploma Honours 2011/12

AA Diploma Honours is the AA's highest award. Each Summer Term exceptional Diploma School students are chosen to present for Honours awards, which are given to the student or students who achieve an exceptionally high standard in the academic year. Those awarded Diploma Honours then exhibit their work early in the next academic year.

Benjamin Reynolds, Diploma Unit 5

New Value

Tutors: Christina Díaz Moreno, Efrén García Grinda, Tyen Masten, John Ng
Nestled between fairway condos and swimming pools as kidneys is a data centre that stores the massive and shapeless stuff of digital production. For the leisure-suit-laden retired bankers of Palm Springs CA, it is a country club of two worlds: above are spaces that exploit their tired bodies through games where play is celebrated social act and the production of illusions temporarily dislocates their realities. Games employ their commodified minds, language and emotions within membranes upon membranes of inflatables. Below is made of excreted material from the data centre: it is the domain of physical superabundance – errors and excess – across time, and through strata of materiality. A glutinous mass, leftover 0s and 1s. Information’s Ivory Towers as silicon’s shit.

The building is a codified territory; a reified .csv file blurring the details of a body and something completely artificial, alien. Its likeness to a body – with wrinkles of inflatables, pits as thermal pools and as hair ethernet cables – is no coincidence as the exchange of data and total creation of information is the sum of human effort. The building becomes where information came from. The bankers are again libidinous college kids; splendour is restored and is floating as a desert oasis of information.


Manijeh Verghese, Diploma Unit 9

The Case of the Elusive Room

Tutor: Natasha Sandmeier

‘Graduating with Honours was a surprise ending to my time as a student at the AA. Constantly inspired by the projects of my talented peers while trying to balance extra-curricular commitments, I never expected to be nominated. After two years in Diploma 9, a unit that fosters individuality within a larger collective agenda, one would expect to be situated in a competitive and isolated environment. Conversely, it is a space of collaboration, encouragement and constructive discussion. From critiquing my project to exchanging ideas to encouraging suggestions, I would never have been able to get to this point had it not been for the overwhelming support from my tutor and classmates – my friends.’

The Case of the Elusive Room is the mystery that has plagued the city over the crime committed by architects in believing that the room and the city are mutually exclusive. Architects categorise space according to scale. To challenge this segregation of scales, we journey in search of the elusive room that collapses the city into an interior. Inspired by Dennis Wheatley’s 1930s murder mysteries, the project is documented as a case file that collects spatial clues to resolve how the city fleetingly collapsed into an interior to help solve the crime of why the room and city have since been separated again. Beginning with the prototypical city within the room, Studio 54, the spaces of the iconic nightclub are reconstructed to understand how, in translating its exclusivity to the city scale, buildings turned into uninhabitable icons once again. To reverse this crime, we search for that elusive room; a momentary collapse of form and experience where the room expands to encompass the city to render it as whole once again.


Beom Kwan Kim, Diploma Unit 8

The Perpetual Evolution of Production in the City

Tutor: Eugene Han  

The project is about the coexistence of production within the dense parameters of Shenzhen and the question is how multiple scales of production can coexist and reorganise themselves. It is obvious that China produces most of the world’s products now and Shenzhen became the first Special Economy Zone. The city has suffered from a new urban plan and been transformed by different zoning plans; therefore, the argument suggests marking down on the city and identifying manufacturing hubs through the juxtaposition and overlay of a new system grid for the city.

My argument is that the city is no longer a single system concentrated in one area. The city today operates as a series of supply chains that can be understood as the intercultural property of the city. My proposal is therefore ultimately to be reflected in the architecture of the whole city: not one of a massive factory plans in Shenzhen but rather as a master scheme that integrates with and interacts with the city. To synthesise my project, the argument focuses on how the role of representation of a city can be manifested through its existing systems, and catalysed through a diffused centrality of buildings. In conclusion, my project asks how cities of an emerging nature can represent themselves at the global level through architecture.


Sam Nelson, Diploma Unit 14

Towards Edufactory: Architecture & the Production of Subjectivity

Tutors: Pier Vittorio Aureli, Maria Giudici

The project ‘Edufactory Docklands’, a combination of housing, learning spaces and infrastructure, addresses the issue of how architecture can give representation to the collective subjectivity defined by the university of today. This subjectivity is based on a way of life that is uprooted, mobile and which relies on constant communication in order to produce new forms of knowledge. Today knowledge and information are bought and sold as commodities, and universities are at the centre of this productive system. The vehicles for this exchange are not simply academic departments, but rather students themselves; subjects influenced through the manipulation of their desires, perspectives and affections. Unlike material production, which results in objects that can be detached from the subject who produced them, it is not possible for knowledge production to detach from the commodity of life itself. This condition, of which today's students are paradigmatic, is typified by increasingly fragile social relationships, feelings of anxiety, competition and panic, which are reinforced by the impossibility of establishing a conventional sense of place. In order to confront this issue, the project exposes the productive potential of the university by linking it with the economic capacity of the airport. In doing so a dialectic is established between the increasing intensity of social interaction in today's global cities and the generic architecture which supports it.



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The Architectural Association receives Taught Degree Awarding Powers by the Lords of Her Majesty’s Most Honourable Privy Council.

The Architectural Association (AA), the oldest independent school of architecture in the United Kingdom, is pleased to announce that it has been granted the power to award its own degrees. As of 1 October 2019, the AA has the right to establish new academic programmes and degree awards and is working to create some of the world’s most pioneering courses in architecture to shape and build the future.

Taught Degree Awarding Powers (TDAP) give UK higher education institutions the right to award bachelor’s and master’s degrees. Prospective students worldwide can apply to the AA Foundation Course (Foundation Diploma), Experimental Programme BA(Hons), Diploma Programme (MArch), and nine taught postgraduate programmes encompassing History and Critical Thinking in Architecture (MA), Projective Cities (Taught MPhil) and Sustainable Environmental Design (MSc/MArch), amongst others.

AA Director, Eva Franch said, ‘since our founding in 1847 we have never ceased to create new horizons, institutionally and academically. This is a significant milestone for the AA and demonstrates how we have grown and progressed as an institution that has always valued independence. Receiving TDAP marks a new era for our institution; these are exciting times for the AA. The process has required considerable work from all members of staff and students. I would like to take this opportunity to credit them for this major achievement’.

President of the AA Council, Victoria Thornton added, ‘the TDAP process has recognised our strong governance, academic standards, scholarship and teaching as well as the environment supporting the delivery of taught higher education programmes’.

The School’s application for Taught Degree Awarding Powers was supported by the Architects Registration Board, the Royal Institute of British Architects and The Open University.