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Theodore Spyropoulos, Director of the MArch Architecture and Urbanism (Design Research Laboratory), has been interviewed by Best Architecture Masters. The interview includes a discussion of the future of architectural education, and highlights the mix of collaboration and creativity that has defined his teaching at the AA.

When asked why architectural education is so important, Spyropoulos responded that:

‘Architecture affords us a framework to understand our world through the medium of space. If a problem could be understood spatially it is in my opinion architectural, this aspect I believe gives agency for architects to contribute to many challenges of contemporary society. Our shared and collective approach to knowledge offers a diverse and speculative model of education that is fundamental.’

Read the interview in full.

 

Photograph by Max Creasy

Date Submitted: 3/4/2020

AA alumnus David Chipperfield (AADipl 1980) has been interviewed by Marcus Fairs, founder and editor-in-chief of Dezeen, for the new ‘Face to Face’ podcast. In the interview Chipperfield discusses his career as an architect and his upbringing, and discusses what being a student at the AA in the 1970s was like.

Describing the variety of teaching that has always defined the AA, Chippefield said: ‘Each unit was doing exceptionally different things, and very fascinating things. And so therefore you did the work in your unit, but your friends were in another unit, so you know, one of my best friends was in Leon Krier’s unit, and someone else was in Rem’s unit. It was a very good time at the AA, although it was stressful as well because it was dangerous because it was a sort of cacophony, a sort of Babel Tower, although incredibly stimulating.’

Chipperfield also recounted a moment during his Diploma when fellow student Zaha Hadid stepped in to defend him during a review, and her constant reminders of her role in saving his Diploma many years later.

Listen to the interview

Date Submitted: 3/4/2020

The response of the AA to COVID-19 has been featured in Building Design Magazine, along with the different strategies of various architecture schools to the changing situation. AA Director Eva Franch i Gilabert outlined the ethos of adaptation that is defining the school’s response to new modes of teaching and connecting across the AA.

Discussing the strength of the AA community, Franch commented:

‘We’ve got 7,000 alumni around the world, some of whom are architects. Students will be able to still be connected, to engage with other people and to share advice and solutions.’

One of the tools that the AA is using to connect alumni, students and staff is through AA Global Forums, which serve as spaces for discussion and collaboration between alumni, students and staff.

As the school adapts to these new times, Franch stressed that ‘it is imperative at this time that we understand the human dimension of what we’re going through. This is about doing the AA in a different way.’

The piece also highlighted the responses at Sheffield, CSM and the Bartlett.

Date Submitted: 3/4/2020

In response to the increased demand for personal protective equipment amongst hospital staff, the AA Digital Prototyping Laboratory has started to produce medical face shields in consultation with the Royal Free Hospital. The shields are based on designs from Czech printing company PRUSA, which have been approved by the Health Ministry of the Czech Republic. DPL staff members Angel Lara Moreira and Henry Cleaver have adapted the design based on guidance from the staff of the Royal Free Hospital in Hampstead and have begun printing the components at the AA. Several of the masks are already being used by NHS staff, with plans to manufacture more over the coming days, whilst continuing to perfect the design through collaboration between doctors at the Royal Free Hospital and the AA.

The mask design from PRUSA is available here.

Date Submitted: 3/4/2020

Chris Zhongtian Yuan (AA alumnus) has been named the Emerging Art Prize winner of the 2020 Aesthetica Art Prize for his work Counterfictions. The prize was chosen from more than 4000 submissions, and a shortlist of 18 international artists. Counterfictions presents alternative narratives of ecological collapse after the construction of Donald Trump’s border wall proposal. Sound and shadowy landscapes are layered – exploring the messy web of human connections, nature and mythology. The moving image weaves together scientific facts, folklore tales, journal articles, and quotes from the President of the United States – creating a dystopian vision of the future. The work will be displayed at the York Art Gallery.

Date Submitted: 20/3/2020

Dr Mark Campbell (AA tutor for Histories and Theories and MPhil Projective Cities) has been appointed to the Academic and International Peer Review Colleges of the UK Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC). This four-year appointment is in recognition of Dr Campbell’s excellence in research and he joins AHRC Colleges, whose membership is drawn from higher education institutions and independent research organisations in the United Kingdom and overseas. The AHRC is part of UK Research and Innovation – a funding body that works in partnership with universities, research organisations, businesses, charities, and government to create the best possible environment for research and innovation to flourish. This body operates across the whole of the UK and has a combined research budget of more than £6 billion.

Date Submitted: 16/3/2020

The Design Research Laboratory (DRL) Taught Postgraduate Programme is exhibiting work at the Zaha Hadid Gallery. The exhibition is titled ‘Radical Constructs: The Work of the DRL’ and will showcase student work from Schumacher Design Studio, Nahmad / Bhooshan Design Studio, Spyropoulos Design Studio and other work from DRL students.

The exhibition aims to reflect on the theme question of experimentation, proposing that:

‘Experimentation is not only necessary, it is fundamental to move beyond assertions of what things should be in order to see them for what they can be. Architecture is a conceptual and disruptive pursuit to re-examine and intervene in this world. Anything less would reinforce existing models rather than looking forward and evolving a history of experimentation that embodies the desire to offer more.’

The exhibition will run Friday 13 March–Friday 24 April at the Zaha Hadid Gallery, 101 Goswell Road, EC1V 7EZ.

Date Submitted: 13/3/2020

Juliet Haysom (AA Foundation Course and Communication & Media Studies Tutor) has been working with students at a variety of higher education colleges, across art, design and performance courses, for an event that took place at the Horniman Museum in south east London for a night of interactive experiences. The event invited members of the public to take part in a variety of interventions around the museum aimed at inspiring speculation and dialogue about how we might make a just transition to a post-carbon society.

Date Submitted: 12/3/2020

The work of the REAL Foundation, led by AA tutor Jack Self, who teaches Deep Adaptation (Diploma 6), has been exhibited at the University of Ohio, as part of an exhibition entitled Fulfilled. 

Fulfilled considers the role of architecture in a culture shaped by the excessive manufacture and assuagement of desire. This event examines architecture through three main themes of fulfillment: material, logistical, and cultural. Material fulfillment will explore the use of materials as elements of global capital, finite resources and aesthetic artifacts. Logistical fulfillment will present designs informed by global logistical networks and distribution environments.

Read more about the exhibition

Date Submitted: 12/3/2020

Alvin Huang, AA alumnus and principal of Synthesis Design + Architecture has been appointed as director of graduate architecture at USC. Huang’s work focuses on the integrated application of material performance, emergent design technologies and digital fabrication in contemporary architectural practice.

Read more about the appointment

Date Submitted: 11/3/2020

Unscene Architecture, directed by AA Alumni Madeleine Kessler and Manijeh Verghese (Head of Public Programme), have revealed the programme for the British Pavilion at the 2020 Venice Biennale. The exhibition, titled The Garden of Privatised Delights seeks to critique the decline of public space and urges both private and public sectors to work together to create better-designed spaces for all.

Verghese and Kessler commented: ‘We hope to initiate conversations around how the private and public sectors can work together to provide the public spaces that are missing in cities, and to make them accessible to all.  By expanding the definition of what privatised public space can be, as well as widening the debate around who can access, own, design and use these areas, we hope to inspire more welcoming and beneficial public spaces for everyone to enjoy.’

The programme includes contributions from a variety of other collaborators proposing alternatives for public space. The Decorators are presenting strategies for turning the pub into a centre for civic action. Built Works, run by AA alumni and MEdia studies stuotrs Harry Kay and Will Gowland want to rethink the way collective data could be used for the public benefit. Studio Polpo are casting off the purely commercial high street, transforming it into a place of diverse social exchange. Public Works, a design practice co-founded by AA alumni and former tutor Andreas Lang and Torange Khonsari, are proposing alternative models of land ownership. Lastly, vPPR, a firm led by AA tutor Jessica Reynolds (Experimental 13) and AA alumna Catherine Pease and former AA tutor Tatiana von Preussen will be asking how we can transform the city into a space for teenagers to occupy on their own terms.

Read the AJ reporting on the plans for the Biennale.

Date Submitted: 11/3/2020

AA tutors Francisco González de Canales and Nuria Alvarez Lombardero, who teach Politics of the Barter Block (Experimental 8) have curated an exhibition entitled Una Arquitectura Menor at the Colegio Oficial de Arquitectos de Sevilla. The exhibition highlights fragments of work by 11 contemporary European architectural offices on minor or small scale projects. The exhibition seeks to emphasise the important role that small commissions, with their limitations and barriers, can have on the development of experimental and innovative architectural practice. Through these projects, practices have been able to question the preconceptions of architectural design which are too often taken for granted.

Date Submitted: 11/3/2020

Ivan Morison, who teaches In Other Worlds (Diploma 12), has been featured on BBC news for the sculptural artwork MOTHER…, which was created by Studio Morison for the National Trust property Wicken Fen in Cambridgeshire. The installation is designed to mimic the haystacks that could once be seen in fields across Britain, whilst evoking ideas about nature, landscape, belonging and community.

In an interview with the BBC, Morison commented that "the sculpture offers a space to reflect on troubling thoughts, as well as an opportunity to perhaps still the mind for a while - by focusing on the simple material qualities of the work and the changing nature of the landscape that surrounds it."

Date Submitted: 11/3/2020

Lily Jencks, tutor of Some Like it Hot (Experimental 13), is taking part in a panel at Melbourne Design Week on Thursday 19 March entitled ‘Transformative Landscapes: Designing the Healthy City’. The panel focuses on landscape architecture and its connection in urban contexts to mental and physical health of the inhabitants.

Tickets are available now.

Date Submitted: 11/3/2020

Several architectural practices led by AA alumni and staff have been named amongst the 50 best architecture firms in the world in a list compiled by Domus Magazine. 6a Architects, led by former AA tutor and council member Tom Emerson was included in the list, alongside LAN (Local Architecture Network), a firm founded by Umberto Napolitano, who teaches Primary City Elements: The Theatre (Diploma 5). Maio, an architectural practice co-directed by Guillermo López, who teaches Deep Adaptation (Diploma 6), was also included on the list. Serie Architects, made up of Chris Lee (AADipl(Hons) 1998 and former Academic Staff), Bolam Lee (AADipl 2008) and Martin Jameson (AADipl(Hons) 2008 and Dip 1 Unit Master) was recognised by Domus, as was vPPR, a practice directed by AA alumna Catherine Pease and Jessica Reynolds, who teaches Some Like it Hot (Experimental 13).

 

Image: Domus March 2020 front cover, Thomas Demand

Date Submitted: 6/3/2020
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THE AA RECEIVES THE POWER TO AWARD ITS OWN DEGREES

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.

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