Michael Weinstock, RIBA

Head of Research Director of Studies, AA PhD Programme, AA Graduate School Director, Emergent Technologies and Design, AA Graduate School

Professional qualifications

RIBA Chartered Architect

Research Interest

My published research has been focused on the dynamics, forms and energy transactions of natural systems, and the abstraction and systematisation of knowledge of biological morphogenesis and evolution to contribute to innovative computational processes of architectural design and materialisation that are necessary to sustain human societies through the impending changes. My current focus is on defining new models of ecological intelligence for future cities in a changed world with a special focus on developing new paradigms for sentient cities in extreme contexts. The ambition is to develop new paradigms for intelligent settlements in the emergent climates and ecological contexts of the future, concentrating on deserts, salt marshes and wetlands, and on the tundra. Current research (grant funding application and agenda in my PhD group) is investigating the potential of combining ‘soft’ defences against flooding from rising sea level, storm surges and rainfall induced flooding with urban morphologies – a city as land/water entity, an engineered productive landscape (mariculture) with the intricate networks of a complex hydrological system, in symbiosis with the energetic and biotic dynamics of its context. To date the focus is on defining and building the necessary simulations and computational models for a small 'biocultural' city system situated in coastal marshes and intertidal zones, in the projected UK and European climate and ecology of 2050.


Dr.Michael Weinstock is an Architect, currently Director of Research and Development, and Director of the Emergent Technologies and Design programme in the Graduate School. Born in Germany, lived as a child in the Far East and then West Africa, and attended an English public school but ran away to sea at age 17 after reading Conrad. Years at sea in traditional wooden sailing ships, with shipyard and shipbuilding experience. Studied Architecture at the Architectural Association 1982/88 and has taught at the AA School of Architecture since 1989 in a range of positions from Workshop Tutor 1989-91, Intermediate Unit Master 1991-96 and then Diploma Unit Master 1996-2000, Master of Technical Studies 1997-2009 through to Academic Head 2006-2009 . He received the Acadia Award for Excellence 2008. Founding Director of Emergent Technologies and Design 2000 to date. Whilst his principal research and teaching has been conducted at the Architectural Association, he has published and lectured widely, and taught seminar courses, studios and workshops at many other schools of Architecture in Europe, including in Delft, Rome, Barcelona, Vienna and in Stuttgart; and in the United States at Yale, CCA, Berkeley and Rice, and in Canada at Calgary, and in China at Tsinghua Beijing/The University of Hong Kong


2013, Weinstock, M., Intelligent Cities and the Taxonomy of Cognitive Scales, Wiley, London, Weinstock, M. (Ed.) ‘System City’, Architectural Design, Wiley, London pp. 56-65, 83(4)
The article explores the possibilities of cognitive complexity in urbanism emerging out of the interaction of sensory processing and behavioural responses to the world. It presents an outline of the specifics of the intelligence required for integration of sentient urban infrastructural systems into an intelligent ‘metasystem’ that is sensitively coupled to the lives of its citizens. It offers a preliminary conceptual schema of cognitive categories in ascending order of complexity: the‘situated city’, ‘reactive/responsive city’, ‘adaptive/attentional city’ and the ‘self-aware city’. A fully intelligent future city can be defined as self-aware and ‘conscious’ of both of itself and its citizens, and able to synchronise the city systems with climatic and ecological phenomena at the regional and local scales. Its spatial patterns are culturally appropriate to its citizens and to its climatic and ecological situation, and it adapts itself to the fluctuations in its flows, and to the emergent phenomena of its context by expansions, contractions and reconfigurations of its infrastructural systems, its spatial patterns and the morphology of its architecture.

2013, Weinstock,M., The Evolutionary Dynamics of Sentience in Cities, Wiley, Ednie-Brown,P., Burry,M., Burrow,A., (eds), The Innovation Imperative:Architectures of Vitality, Architectural Design, pp 92–7.
This article argues that the evolution of sentient systems is the primary foundation of intelligent urban environments. It outlines the how the extended ‘nervous system’ of cities have the potential to develop the capacity to sense changes in the city’s flows of people, and of energy, information and material.

2010, Weinstock, M., The Architecture of Emergence: the Evolution of Form in Nature and Civilisation, Wiley
The primary concern of the book is to position human evolutionary development within ecological development, and to trace the emergence and evolutionary development of human culture, the emergence of architecture and of cities and systems of cities within the processes and phenomena of natural systems. The first half of the book is focused on the complex systems of the physical world – the forms and processes of the climate, the land surface of the earth, the emergence and evolution of the anatomical forms and metabolism of all living species and of their genetics, followed by the dynamics of individual and collective metabolisms from which intelligence, social and spatial orders emerge. The second half of the book traces the evolution of human culture in relation to climate and ecology and the episodic collapse and reorganisation of cultural and ecological systems. The irregular expansions, consolidation, collapse and subsequent reorganisation of cities and systems of cities are traced. The thresholds of critical stability in the natural and cultural systems of the world are identified, and the systemic changes that will cascade through all systems are outlined, and the likely outcomes from which new forms of cities and dynamical patterns of future societies will emerge are delineated. ISBN: 978-0-470-06633-1

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