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“The daughter of a reformist politician and suffragette, and a close friend of the architectural giant Le Corbusier, Minnette de Silva was Sri Lanka’s first modernist architect and the first Asian woman to become an Associate of the Royal Institute of British Architects.

She pursued her vocation despite her father’s opposition, moving first to Mumbai and later postwar London to study. During her time at the Architectural Association (AA) in the UK she cut an elegant figure, draped in silk saris and followed by a train of young male students bearing her bags and instruments.”

Read the full article on the Guardian website

Date Submitted: 14/12/2018

The Ordre des Arts et des Lettres (Order of Arts and Letters) is an Order of France, established on 2 May 1957 by the Minister of Culture. Its purpose is the recognition of significant contributions to the arts, literature, or the propagation of these fields.

Umberto Napolitano, AA Diploma 5 Unit Master and also the founder of Local Architecture Network (LAN), has been appointed to the rank of Chevalier des Arts et des Lettres.

Date Submitted: 14/12/2018

Script from ‘Object Narratives’, an alternative history of the AA, performed at the Silver Gala fundraising dinner on 17 November 2018 by the AA Party Committee-

Summerson's AA History

“This is the only history of the Architectural Association, or should I call it an introduction to the Architectural Association’s past - since a history somewhat instigates that it should at some point approach the present. As a place of irony in itself, it is unsurprising that the almost biographical history of the AA was written by someone who was not a student, a tutor, or an even a member of the AA - those of us who would “never have the time”. Hence, although it is ironic that an observer was able to sum up the creation of the AA, if he hadn’t, it could very well be left unwritten. A quote from Summerson that I believe described the AA most effectively: “Here was a group of beginners, who by their own effort and with the assistance of only a handful of elders, undermined a firmly established system of training and laid the foundations of the completely different system of today. We question if this performance could be paralleled in any other profession – However, architecture occupies a unique place in the fabric of society. Both art and madness, and a mad desire to make buildings eloquent is somewhat mixed with the architect’s desire to better himself and his kind. It was a pack of troublesome students who founded the AA.””

President’s Medal

“The chest of the president of the AA was constantly decorated with the president’s medal when in the premises. Students thought of him like a decorated Mayor figure. This medal is one of many in the archive and appears to be a fragment out of a fountainhead fantasy miniaturised to be worn but unapologetically staging a “design with beauty built in truth” narrative. Nôtre Dame de Paris, the Parthenon, St Pauls Cathedral and Agia Sophia are protected by a medieval castle wall, while a naked male figure -that would feel at home on the crown of a delirious skyscraper- rises like a superhero towards the Architectural Association double A that actually attaches the medal to the ribbon.”

The Other AA

“During the negotiations, talks and protests about a potential merger between the AA and Imperial College, a design competition was launched for a new AA building at Queen’s Gate, South Kensington. In 1969, James Madge imagines an AA that is constantly served by a construction crane, allowing for an ever-changing maze of pods, rooms and corridors. The ultimate fantasy of the individual working space- tiny but individual- in a school where working, reading, studying and drinking was a spectacle. The majority of students and staff were concerned with the incorporation into the state-run university system that would compromise the freedom and independence that has characterised the AA since its foundation. In February 1971, as student and staff demands became more vocal, Imperial College broke off negotiations, citing concerns at the nature and intentions of the school community. The merger never happened and the maze- not currently served by a construction crane- became numbers 32 to 39 Bedford square.

Ghost Dance Times

“Maybe the most radical of all student publications at the AA and based on the Ghost Dance, a central ritual to the messianic religion instituted in the late 19th century, which prophesied the peaceful end of the westward expansion of whites and a return of the land to the Native Americans.

Sparkling irreverent, the Ghost Dance Times ran from 1974 to 1975 and aimed to chronicle the world of ‘empty studios and crowded bars where promising students consort with brilliant tutors in a mutual exorcism of the professional reality the first have not yet faced and the second never enjoyed…’ Funding was finally withdrawn in June of 1975 with Martin Pawley’s editorial claiming that Chairman, Alvin Boyarsky, facing the rising costs of ‘TV studios, champagne breakfasts and foreign exhibitions’, decided a more ‘responsible and altogether less intelligible’ organ was needed.”

The AA Whiskey Bottle

“This empty bottle was retrieved from the AA Archives raising questions regarding who bottled this fine 8 year old scotch whiskey, but more importantly who drunk it! Peter Cook describes the AA as a place that represented more than a century of elitism, arrogance, freedom and, most of all, a cosmopolitanism encouraged by the presence of an expensive chandelier and a creative use of the wine or whisky bottle or likelihood that Nervi, Bucky Fuller or Gropius might pop their head round the door. Most likely he refers to a specific bottle of whisky shared between Alvin, Bucky and Walter.It is rumoured that there are still bottles in circulation between AA members.”

The Silver Wedding Gift

“This sliver box was made by Chris Fawcett and Simada Kumiko as a wedding present in July 1976 for John Clark and Kojima Kazuko, as a legal witness for which Shimada Rumiko served.  

“It was presented to the Fawcett Archive of the Architectural Association in the hope that it presents something of Chris Fawcett’s plastic imagination, something those who met him recall vividly.” - John and Kazuko Clark, 20 December 1986. It contains: a pair of silver chopsticks, a silver lighter, a silver box of matches, a silver sphere, a silver film container, silver painted pennies, another smaller silver box, a silver painted booklet on Barry Lyndon from Japan and a miniature silver Christmas tree wrapped in silver fabric.”

Pantomime Lantern Slide

“From the original slide collection of the AA, depicting two male students in full costume during a pantomime performance bringing the AA logo to life: two human figures are wrapped around the two capital A’s, holding a trowel and a drawing respectively while together supporting a lit torch, surrounded by the motto: Designed with Beauty, Built in Truth. It is approximately dated around 1930 when AA students were working on elaborate pantomime sketches that entailed the composition of original music and lyrics, the construction of design sets and the design and manufacturing of costumes and wigs.”

Compass Set

“Donated to the AA Archives from the offspring of an AA alumnus with the demand to keep these blizzard items of torture locked away. Ruling pens, Drawing Compasses, Protractors, Callipers and Vernier Scales.”

Carnival Book

“The AA Carnival from the year 1978 is surely the most illustrious example of the radical nature of AA life at the time. Two students, Phil Hudson and Ray Oxley dismissed their primary studio work and dedicated an entire school year to organising The Carnival. The theme of the Carnival was “Circus” and it transformed three of the school’s buildings into a maze of performances, unexpected happenings and spectacles - from Alvin Boyarski (School Chairman) riding an elephant over trumpet orchestras and rock bands, clowns and strippers (both male and female) to a high dive by Roy Franson which was forcefully prevented by the Police. In spite of being an incredible success with more than a thousand visitors, the Carnival was closed down around half three in the morning as a result of custard pie chaos leaving the floors and walls of the school, as well as the participants of the event, covered in custard. A truly glorious moment, but not enough to pass the year, as both students failed and were asked to repeat their second year.”

Dalia’s Models

“The AA constantly pushes at the boundaries of what architecture is beyond our present material limits. These models by diploma honours graduate Dalia Matsuura Frontini imagine a future where buildings can be painted in the 4th dimension - using carbon fibre filaments to design thin yet extremely stable structures to resist earthquakes and stabilise buildings.” 

The Silver Whale Detail

“The Georgian buildings we inhabit are filled with traces of activity, use and change. An example can be seen when walking the diploma corridor where a railing sits in the middle of the corridor as a trace of a staircase that was once there. This image is taken from a collection of photographs of strange AA details by photographer Sue Barr - a whale sticker swimming from wall to ceiling across historic moulding.”

The AA Archives

The Architectural Association Archives, located at the rear of no. 32 Bedford Square, consist of in excess of 10,000 architectural drawings, student projects, paintings and works on paper, together with over 800 cubic feet of textual documents. Access to archival material is available to AA Subscribing Members by contacting archives@aaschool.ac.uk

Object Histories, an alternative AA History is featured in AA Sporadical, the digital newsletter for alumni of the Architectural Association. To opt in, email events@aaschool.ac.uk.



Date Submitted: 13/12/2018

Paul Shepheard (AADipl 1972) on slogans and battlecries (December 2018) –

“slogans and battlecries is a series of fifty 300 word pieces about architecture situated on instagram as slogans_and_battlecries. (They are the same thing: a slogan is from the Gaelic for war cry, the cry the clan yelled as it hurtled into battle). The series started as a corner page weekly column in Building Design magazine and I grew it into this series upon understanding the possibilities of instagram, in both the words and the images that mark them. The slogans themselves will be familiar to architects (God Is In The Details, The International Style, Less Is A Bore) and the pleasure in writing about them was to hold them up and view them from all sides, like a cubist painter. The pleasure of a precise word limit (the pieces are all exactly 300 words long) is in the elisions and collisions it promotes and the pleasure of a tight word limit (300 words is about half a page) is the poetic brevities it forces upon you. The resulting contexts are very dense, which is an imitation of the actual world, and so I invented two characters, Billie and Ben, youngsters to my oldster, to help negotiate the narratives involved.”

slogans_and_battlecries32. (extracted from Instagram)

“THE INTERNATIONAL STYLE

 Ben looks up from his collection of modern architecture text books. He is hunting for slogans for me and tells me that modernism is full of them. “How about ‘social condenser’?” He says. “Is that the same thing as a concentration camp?” I think he’s trying to wind me up. He’s right about the plethora of modernist sloganizing, which dates from about the same time as the twentieth century’s heroic dictatorships and their propagandas. We can’t decide whether ‘Social Condenser’ is a slogan, though if not it’s pretty close to one. And does ‘Spirit of the Age’ count? “How about ‘A Brave New World’?” says Ben. But that’s not modern, that’s Shakespeare. ‘The International Style’ is also in the books and that certainly does count, because it apes the undisputable sloganity of ‘International Socialism’: only if we eliminate the archaic traditions of nationality can design function for the common good. The International Style promises a world built of reason, not of prejudice. But what is it? Billie shows us a picture of Lincoln cathedral. She asks what’s not international about twelfth century gothic? The cathedral sits imposingly on its hill with its spires reaching for heaven; and amusingly in the foreground is the white, modernist slab of the new Lincoln University. “Look,” says Billie. “There’s an international horizontal and an international vertical.” The problem word in International Style is ‘style’. Real modernism is so true to its purpose it has no ‘style’. So now Ben wikis the characteristics of the international style: “Emphasis of volume over mass,” he reads, “lightweight, industrial materials, plain surfaces, repetitive modular forms....” “They’re symptoms, not characteristics,” says Billie. “Style is a kind of disease and we’re like doctors reading the symptoms. That’s it! the title of my new dissertation!” She exclaims: “The Pathology Of Style.” #rickmather #lincolncathedral #lincolnuniversity #internationalstyle #verticality #horizontality #socialcondenser #pathology”

We have pasted the link below for you to explore Paul’s unique stance yourselves, Sporadical has liked everything! Though there are more to be uploaded at the time of writing, please do comment for Paul on your personal favourites and suggestions of additional architectural slogans are welcome.

https://www.instagram.com/slogans_and_battlecries/

Paul Shepheard (AADipl 1972 and Student Prize winner 1972), published a set of drawings that are now held in the AA Archive in ‘Projects’ Architectural Association 1946-1971’, edited by James Gowen. Paul is also a former AA Tutor with Mike Gold and Jean Sillett and has published widely since, which can be explored at www.paulshepheard.com

Slogans and Battlecries on Instagram is featured in AA Sporadical, the digital newsletter for alumni of the Architectural Association. To opt in, email events@aaschool.ac.uk.

Date Submitted: 12/12/2018

In 1975 Julian Cripps came to Bedford Square for an interview to study at the AA. Armed with a portfolio of large-scale drawings, some the size of a football pitch and a sketchbook of buildings and factories being demolished in his hometown of Reading, he arrived at Bedford Square.

A public exhibition of Frei Otto and one on Japanese Houses was running at the time with large photographs covering the walls of the members' rooms. During his visit he found like minds amongst a group of people who seemed to ‘hang around the sofas and chat’, he knew he had found a home.

In March of 1978 as part of the AA Carnival, Julian, by then in his second year and motivated by having been told it was not possible, installed an 18-watt laser on the roof of No. 36 to draw with light an inscribed square at roof level within Bedford Square. The results of which became the stuff of legend!.

40 years later, Julian accepted an invitation for another interview at Bedford Square, to look back on the project and how it came to be … [to be continued in the next AA Sporadical issue]

Next on AA Sporadical...The Art of Borrowing...is featured in AA Sporadical, the digital newsletter for alumni of the Architectural Association. To opt in, email events@aaschool.ac.uk.

Date Submitted: 11/12/2018

This is a call out to all alumni who attended Christmas Parties at the AA in the years –

2015, 2007, 2004, 2003, 2002, 2001, 2000, 1999, 1998, 1996, 1995, 1994, 1993, 1991, 1990, 1989, 1985, 1984, 1983, 1980 and pre- 1979

- we need your photographs to complete our collection! Please email/transfer them to events@aaschool.ac.uk or post them to Membership, 36 Bedford Square, London, WC1B 3ES

Image not available is featured in AA Sporadical, the digital newsletter for alumni of the Architectural Association. To opt in, email events@aaschool.ac.uk.

Date Submitted: 10/12/2018

Nothing excites this gossip columnist like an opportunity of getting the keys to the architecture networking castle, even if those keys and that castle are a bit dusty. For a limited time, on loan from the AA Archive, I have in my possession an astonishing pre-digital social media relic, the AA Rolodex! Actually, a Rotadex, manufactured in Birmingham; the company is still thriving today.

This spindle of pastel-coloured index cards was lovingly built up over the 40-year career of AA Secretary Edouard le Maistre. There might be about 700-800 cards here containing the contacts of the entire span of Alvin Boyarksy’s chairmanship, Alan Balfour’s, Mohsen Mostafavi’s and the first two years of Brett Steele’s directorship. The older phone numbers are pre-London prefixes, fax numbers are celebrated and then crossed out in favour of new-fangled email addresses. About every fifth card is updated, old addresses and numbers crossed out rather than wastefully replacing a notched card. Some are handwritten, others tapped out on a typewriter. Lots of business cards are stapled in, each broadcasting its graphic design Zeitgeist faster than you can say Pentagram circa 1989. Wolf Prix’s card gets seven phone number updates over time. Richard Rogers’ and James Stirling’s home numbers are noted.   

Image showing AA Rolodex from AA Archive

Most cards, no surprise, are architects’ offices, most gone or moved by now, but not all. Then there are the outlier cards, one, marked “Restaurants” looks to be of Boyarsky or Balfour vintage and lists out:

Antoine’s (crossed out, formerly at 40 Charlotte Street)

Bombay Brasserie

Balzac Bistro

Bibendum

Bentleys

Chelsea Arts

Café Pelican

Chez Solanges

Chez Gerrard

Caprice  

But, wait, there are more restaurant cards, like ten more, a veritable who-ate-what-where shortlist including Odin’s, the Ritz, the Ivy, Criterion, and Tante Claire (Chelsea, long gone). There are a lot of bookshop cards, almost none still in existence. Travel agents, ditto. Lots of publishers, magazine editors, newspaper contacts lurk in the cards. Some museum curators and galleries are squeezed in; Max Protetch’s card is well-worn. Very few business types or politicians, but a good many ambassadors called upon, no doubt, to sort a visa or two over the years. The occasional engineer and construction firm (like five) made it in. There are several Sirs and Ladies in Eaton Square in the mix, some BBC radio and television names, a dozen RIBA big-wigs scattered about.

What comes across in spades is how international the AA’s been since 1969 when this Rotadex got started. European professors reaching well past the Iron Curtain. Lots and lots of American academics, every Ivy League dean. New York City architects outnumber the Californian 10:1. Commonwealth architecture schools in South Africa, India, Hong Kong, Australia, Canada. An array of contacts both academic and practices in Japan, China, Korea. The alphabetisation sets up interesting juxtapositions: The Malaysian Institute of Architects (Pertubuhan Akitek Malaysia or PAM) sits next to the entry for Eduardo Paolozzi, his studio and RCA numbers noted, which rubs shoulders with Juhani Palaasm, Professor and former Dean at the Helsinki University of Technology and Director of the Finnish Museum of Architecture (1978-1983). Despite the global reach, there’s a lot of London in here. About half the cards are addresses you could walk to from Bedford Square or, at least, grab a cab to easily. Oh, yeah, there’s two cards of just cab company numbers, but, relax, no limo service in sight.

Back in the mists of time, before the iPhone, in an age when phones just rang and were answered without caller’s numbers coming up on a screen to save or forward on, such a thing as a Rola-Rotadex was a prized data capturing and archiving device, a central tool in the AA’s daily life, an interprofessional-academical worldwide web or hard-won far-flung colleagues. Other schools would have given away their RIBA medals for just a slice of this thing back when; or perhaps even now. How many of these numbers, prefixes added, might still ring? How many might be answered? Let me dial for you…

Lira Welts

From the stairwell is featured in AA Sporadical, the digital newsletter for alumni of the Architectural Association. To opt in, email events@aaschool.ac.uk.

Date Submitted: 9/12/2018

The Gold Medal is the AIA’s highest annual honour, recognising individuals whose work has had a lasting influence on the theory and practice of architecture. Considered one of the most prestigious awards in the architecture world, the Gold Medal has been received by well renowned architects such as Moshe Safdie, Denise Scott Brown, Robert Venturi, and Paul Revere Williams.

The AA congratulates Lord Richard Rogers (AADipl 1960) on being announced as the 2019 Gold Medal recipient.

'We know that architecture is a discipline of enormous political and social consequence,' Lord Peter Palumbo of Walbrook wrote of Rogers. 'And today we celebrate Richard Rogers, a humanist who reminds us that architecture is the most social of arts. Throughout his long, innovative careers, Rogers shows us that, perhaps, the architect’s most lasting role is that of a good citizen of the world.'

Read more on the AIA website here

Image: Reyner Banham, Lloyds Bank Headquarters-London, 1985, AA Photo

Date Submitted: 8/12/2018

A live installation of a prototype cable construction robot, developed by architects Mamou-Mani, explores the future of building construction.

Building on the ‘spider cams’ of sports stadia and pick-and-place technology, the Polibot, a prototype construction robot, installed in Sir John Soane’s Museum, offers a glimpse of the exciting future of building construction. The Polibot progressively constructs and then deconstructs Soane’s designs for the dome from the Bank of England, using architectural drawings translated into lines of code.

The installation will be supported by an exhibition in the Exhibition Galleries that explores the development of the project and Soane’s own experimentation with innovative new technology.

Simultaneously looking back and looking forward, the project offers a powerful showcase of the potential of this new technology, which looks set to transform how architecture is designed and understood.

Polibot Schedule: The Polibot will run Wednesday to Sunday, 10 - 4.30pm

Exhibition on until 3 February 2019

Find out more on the Sir John Soane's Museum website

Date Submitted: 8/12/2018

Tallinn Architecture Biennale (TAB), an international architecture and urban-planning festival based in Estonia, aims to create a synergy between emerging talents and industry, Estonian and international architects, and architects and the general public, by creating a point of contact between them to stimulate the exchange of ideas.

In November this year, TAB called for architectural proposals for its Installation Programme Competition 2019. The brief, Huts and Habitats, aligns Estonia’s rich history of timber construction with new technologies and design strategies. Participants were asked to design a modern take on the wooden ‘primitive hut’, an installation that researches fundamental, primordial notions of construction, tectonics and dwelling.

Offering the opportunity to design and build an experimental wooden structure in the heart of Tallinn, 137 world-wide submissions were received for the two-stage competition. Among the 12 architectural firms selected to continue on to the second stage were AA Alumni, Nicholas Grimshaw (AADipl(Hons) 1965), Manuel Jimenez Garcia (AA DRL MArch 2011) and Igor Pantic (AA DRL March 2011). 

The winner will be announced in February 2019 and will receive €15,000 to build and construct the installation in front of the Museum of Estonian Architecture in Tallinn city centre in August 2019. It will be opened to the public during TAB Opening Week, 11–15 September 2019.

Read more on the brief or find out about the other finalists here

Image credit: Gilles Retsin’s TAB 2017 Installation ©NAARO-6

Date Submitted: 7/12/2018

The Museum of Modern Art and MoMA PS1 have announced the five finalists for next year’s twentieth annual Young Architects Program (YAP). Each finalist is invited to make a preliminary proposal that will be installed inside PS1’s outdoor courtyard next summer. The winner will be revealed in early 2019.

The selection of finalists hints at MoMA’s commitment to showcasing forward-thinking architects who use eye-catching design, strategic planning, and social media to garner global influence. Not only do these teams create innovative spaces and experiences, but they incorporate imaginative materials and movement into every project they pursue.

Among the five teams of finalists are Oana Stanescu (AA Diploma Unit 15 Staff) and Akane Moriyama.

Read more here

Date Submitted: 7/12/2018

The AJ Architecture Awards recognises excellence in UK architecture across a range of categories, from school project of the year to housing project of the year.

The 2018 awards saw architecture’s most creative and talented leaders and innovators attend the ceremony at The Roundhouse London on 4 December, to hear the results of the 23 award categories.

The AA congratulates AA alumni and former staff, including drMM, Allford Hall Monaghan Morris, Fielden Fowles, Dixon Jones and Ian Ritchie Architects, for their success in this year’s awards.

See the full list of winners on the AJ website here

Image credit: Allford Hall Monaghan Morris, Royal Court, Liverpool. Awarded Cultural Project of the Year.

Date Submitted: 6/12/2018

The exhibition, at MAGAZIN. Space for Contemporary Architecture, Vienna, contains excerpts from a location situated remotely from a city, where norms are incomparable to ours, but no less substantiated by a will to progress, hindered by violence and a need to share. The location, founded upon ancient customary practices and fulfilled by a technically proficient contemporary, will be honoured in the space by a moving image, three large installations and drawings.

The “Highest Good” refers to the physical and performative goals of such a place to which its people aspire.

The newly produced body of work adopts an alternative way to navigate the gallery by the addition of a partition and by reducing natural light. In this arrangement, one enters the space which prepares the "palette" of the eye in order to access other temperaments at show.

Throughout the exhibition the production of a publication will take place entitled "Zenith Boil", derived from creation of an artefact that makes measurable atmospheric changes  

http://www.palacepalace.com

MAGAZIN. Space for Contemporary Architecture
Weyringergasse 27/i
A - 1040 Vienna

Opening: 7 December 2018 7pm
Exhibition: 8 December – 1 February 2019

Date Submitted: 6/12/2018

Kostas Grigoriadis (AA Diploma Unit 2 Staff) wins the 2018 RIBA President’s Award for Research within the Design and Technical category for his paper Computational Blends: The Epistemology of Designing with Functionally Graded Materials. Read more about the project on the RIBA website here

Camille Bongard (Intermediate 5 Student) has received a Commendation in the Bronze Medal Category of the 2018 RIBA President’s Medal Award for her project A Choreographed Timeline, Rewriting RIBA Building Contract. Read more about the project on the RIBA website here

Jingru Cheng (AA PdD Candidate) has received a Commendation in the 2018 RIBA President's Awards for Research within the Cities and Community category for her paper Care and Rebellion: The Dissolved Household in Contemporary Rural China. Read more about the project on the RIBA website here

Image credit: Camille Bongard, A Choreographed Timeline, Rewriting RIBA Building Contract

Date Submitted: 5/12/2018

AA Landscape Urbanism Co-director Jose Alfredo Ramirez will be a key note speaker in the Seminar on Governance and Urban Growth organized by the Inter-American Development Bank in Bogota Colombia on 5th December 2018.

The event will focus on a couple of metropolitan studies the Inter-American Development Bank has been developing recently in the region to promote and support metropolitan coordination with local governments.  The research includes study cases in Colombia and Chile and will discuss the idea of Metropolitan Landscapes and the future of Metropolis presented by Jose Alfredo Ramirez as part of an ongoing research on Metropolitan regions and its emergence as a design discipline.

For more information visit the AALU website

Date Submitted: 4/12/2018
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