Sir John Soane’s Museum have announced that Denise Scott Brown (AADipl 1956), the pioneering American architect, planner and theorist, will be the recipient of the 2018 Soane Medal, awarded annually in recognition of architects who have made a major contribution to their field, through their built work, through education, history and theory. 
Denise Scott Brown’s ideas and work as architect, planner, urbanist, theorist, writer and educator have had a global influence, transforming thinking about architecture and cities. As an academic and educator, Scott Brown has led countless research projects, notably Learning from Las Vegas, which became a seminal book (1972; revised edition 1977, with Robert Venturi and Steven Izenour). Both the ideas and the techniques employed in this and other studies have proved highly influential on the subsequent direction of architectural research. Scott Brown’s other books include The View from the Campidoglio (1984 with Robert Venturi), Architecture as Signs and Systems for a Mannerist Time (2004 with Robert Venturi) and Having Words (2009).

Denise Scott Brown’s award will be celebrated at a special public event on Wednesday 17 October at the Sainsbury Wing of the National Gallery, which she designed with Robert Venturi. The event will comprise a lecture, pre-recorded by Denise Scott Brown at her home in Philadelphia and illustrated by her own largely unseen photographs, with a live response by Sir David Chipperfield.
Learn more and get tickets at https://www.soane.org/medal

Image: Denise Scott Brown in front of The Strip, Las Vegas, NV, US, 1966, Photo by Robert Venturi, courtesy of Venturi, Scott Brown and Associates, Inc.

Date Submitted: 7/9/2018

New AA Director Eva Franch i Gilabert, Alumni Denise Scott Brown and Neri Oxman, and former Visiting School tutor Frida Escobedo, make up four of the "16 Women breaking new ground in Architecture". In the article Artsy highlights 16 women across generations and borders, and the ways they’re leading the charge in moving the architecture field forward.

Aileen Kwun writes, "When it comes to gender inequity in the architecture world, the writing’s on the wall: In the U.S. alone, women make up nearly half of the student body in architecture schools, and yet those numbers drop off dramatically in the professional field, where women make up a paltry 18 percent of licensed architects and, worse yet, suffer from a host of well-documented wage and social inequities that prevent them from scaling the ladder. Worldwide, only three of the top 100 firms are headed by women."

To read the article, please visit - https://www.artsy.net/article/artsy-editorial-16-women-breaking-new-ground-architecture

Date Submitted: 6/9/2018

After gaining significant experience working for prestigious firms such as Zaha Hadid Architects and AL_A, alumnus Alvin Huang began his practice Synthesis Design + Architecture in 2011. Blending applied research with exploratory practice, the young practice has completed commissions ranging from a huge shopping centre in Bangkok to a rapidly deployable solar-powered charging station for a new, alternative-fuel Volvo.

In an article featured on the website Archinect, Huang discusses how he took the leap to start his own practice and the challenges he has faced in doing so.  In the article Huang says, “The two major hurdles we have come across recently have been issues of “hunting” aka business development, and “currency” aka reputation.”

To find out more and to see how Synthesis Design + Architecture have overcome the challenges they have faced please visit http://bit.ly/SDAarchinect

Date Submitted: 5/9/2018

AA intermediate studio tutor Thomas Randall-Page and former AA foundation student Benedetta Rogers have set sail to AirDraft, an inflatable floating theatre, on the Regents Canal. The second of the annual Antepavilion series, AirDraft was chosen from 132 entries in the open architectural competition that called for proposals that engage with the heritage of the Regent’s Canal in innovative ways.

Commenting on their design, Randall-Page and Rogers said: “The lower of two membranes produces a soft playful landscape for lounging around on, and a second far lighter membrane provides shelter and enclosure. When the membranes are deflated, the incognito AirDraft has ample clearance under even the lowest canal bridge allowing her to relocate and tour.”

“Viewed from the towpath AirDraft resembles a curiously overloaded cargo boat complementing and adding to Hoxton Docks’ existing ensemble of playful and artistic structures.”

Read more about the project at https://www.bdonline.co.uk/news/zeppelin-inspired-floating-theatre-sets-sail/5095066.article

Image Credit: Jim Stephenson, bd online

Date Submitted: 4/9/2018

Sarah Khan’s (AA GradDiplCons 2018) project Apple tree Farmhouse at Roger Mears Architects won the 2018 RICS East of England Award in Building Conservation

This project comprised the sensitive and meticulous repair of a Grade II listed Chorleywood farmhouse on the edge of Chilterns Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. Works included careful repairs to roofs, brickwork and timber frames, and the successful use of hot-mixed lime mortar. Many mediaeval details were revealed during construction, such as a window with shutter grooves and diamond mullions, timber stop beads dating back to c1550, and most importantly, two painted mediaeval timber braces dating from c.1500 -1550.

Image showing painted mediaeval timber brace dating from c.1500 -1550

Date Submitted: 16/8/2018

Blueprint for the Future is a free, three-day showcase of the work of the brightest, most interesting and challenging architecture students graduating Part II across London, as selected by Blueprint Magazine.

Each of the capital’s best architecture schools have been paired with nine of the most exciting international design brands, resulting in a ‘trail’ of exhibitions held over three days (17, 18, 19 July, from 12–7pm) in showrooms across Clerkenwell.

The AA is exhibiting at:
Senator Showroom
25 Charterhouse Square
London EC1M 6HP

The following students were nominated for honours and have their projects exhibited:
Diploma Unit 1: David Flook
Diploma Unit 2: Raphael Zwi Fogel
Diploma Unit 4: Rebecca Ploj
Diploma Unit 5: Zsuzsa Peter 
Diploma Unit 8: Gleb Sheykin
Diploma Unit 9: Etienne Gilly
Diploma Unit 11: Eyal Amsili Giovannetti
Diploma Unit 12: Sebastian Tiew
Diploma Unit 13: Martina Contento
Diploma Unit 14: Shaan Bimal Patel
Diploma Unit 15: Cheuk Ting Jane Wong
Diploma Unit 16: Dalia Frontini Matsuura
Diploma Unit 17: Beatrice Melli

For more information, please visit: http://blueprint-future.co.uk/

Date Submitted: 16/7/2018

The collaborative architectural workshop run by London based practice Takero Shimazaki Architects (t-sa) returns to Bedford Square to explore the theme of 'language' in architecture. 

Taking place from 28th August to 21st September, t-sa forum x AA will study the theme of an architectural language through ‘figures’. Distilling ideas through, live drawing, casting, photography and making workshops to develop design proposals influenced by the abstract figure.

In 2015, architect Takero Shimazaki wrote on his practise's methodology and how 'seeing what is there and expressing it':


Takero Shimazaki

John Ruskin said, 'The  greatest thing a human soul ever does in this world is to see something, and tell what it saw in a plain way.'

Writing about what we experienced and learnt during t-sa forum 2015 is not a simple task. The four-week workshop by our practice, t-sa at the Architectural Association this year opened many doors to pursue for the future. It is equally not easy to discuss emotion (our theme) that's felt in architecture; especially in today's professional context where logic, pragmatism, theory and economy take precedence over poetry. Recently, through our practice's built projects, we have felt more architectural potential in working with what exists already on site. From architectural students, practices and tile developers, the value of surveying and valuing the historical context (modern or classical) isn't embraced enough. I often wonder at student crits, what is existing, and what is proposed. I struggle to understand what the particular student is valuing in terms of the historical context, artefacts and what is being discarded. Often, a process of designing takes the form of removing everything within the site in the most diagramatic means witilout much appreciation for the details, marks, structure, patina or activities that have taken place before.

Architects often prefer to build new structures. This mostly comes from our education, where students in most schools are encouraged to design a new visitor centre, a museum or a community centre, for example, with a multitude of brief requirements to fulfill. Small infill projects or subtle renewal projects are harder to justify.

By showing t-sa's projects to the students and taking them on tours of projects such as our Curzon Bloomsbury project, we tried to show the students that working and negotiating with existing conditions to create something new can also be rewarding. Of course, we still need to design with the ingredients that we uncover. However, as Ruskin says, we felt that the first exercise to perform is to see what is there and tell it.

Feeling, when we experience a place or buildings, is what we tried to capture in this year's t-sa forum ultimately. We studied three relatively recent renewal projects in London. We visited and spent time in the buildings and then asked the students to express their experience through various media. We did this by focusing on creating a single artefact each week, ending with four pieces of work during the workshop. Photography, Drawing and Printing were used as tools.

Doing less, in terms of a number of drawings focuses one's mind about what a particular drawing or a print is trying to convey. This constraint has helped both the students and us (the 'practitioner guides') to capture the essence of what each student felt in a space. By restricting the exercises to a survey formal only, the workshop gave the students an opportunity to absorb, understand and express the existing architectural qualities without having the pressure or the need to design something. The extraordinary contradiction is that through photographing, drawing and making prints of the existing spaces, the students' works emerged as beautiful artefacts that expressed something more than just a survey.They became that 'greatest thing' that Ruskin talks about.

Image credit, Curzon Bloomsbury cinema - Anton Gorlenko and Helene Binet 

Date Submitted: 6/7/2018

World-renowned chef, writer, and former AA student Fergus Henderson MBE has been awarded the 2018 Honorary AA Diploma by interim school director Samantha Hardingham at this year's Graduation and Prize-giving Ceremony, held in Bedford Square Gardens.

‘Each year we have the pleasure of awarding an honorary AA Diploma to an individual who has made a significant contribution to the life of the AA, or for whom this place holds a certain significance’ Hardingham said, before adding ‘we are delighted to be able to recognise Fergus for his extraordinary contribution to the AA, London and the world, by filling the bellies of its architects and citizensand, as such, dignifying life generally’.

Following in the footsteps of his architect parents, Brian and Elizabeth, Fergus Henderson began studies at the Architectural Association in 1984, but by the late 80s, whilst still studying, he took a job at Smith’s Restaurant in Covent Garden and thus began his career as a chef.

Having left the AA without his diploma, Fergus went on to found St. JOHN with Trevor Gulliver in 1994 in an abandoned smoke house on the edge of the city district. Critical acclaim for Fergus's brand of simple cooking set in an architecturally pared-back setting followed, and in the years since it opened, St. JOHN has won a large number of awards and high rankings in national and international listings. He was awarded his first Michelin Star in 2009.

Fergus is now widely recognized as one of the most influential figures in the modern restaurant scene and received an MBE in 2005 for his services to gastronomy. In 2015, he was given the Lifetime Achievement Award in the influential World’s 50 Best list.

A published writer, Fergus’s Nose to Tail Eating - A Kind of British Cooking, first published in 1999 and re-published both in the UK and the US (as The Whole Beast) garnered much acclaim and won the Andre Simon award for food writing. A follow up book, Beyond Nose to Tail Eating was published in 2007 and The Complete Nose to Tail was launched in October 2012.  In 2016, Fergus’s Nose to Tail Eating was voted ‘most influential cookbook of all time’ by public and industry peers.

Date Submitted: 27/6/2018

The general public are invited to join a lecture by AA tutor Eduardo Rico, given in conjunction with the EPF|ETH summer school on Relational Space / Relational Urbanism, followed by a brief discussion. It will take place on Thursday 14 June from 09.15 – 11.00.

Renowned landscape architect, civil engineer and urbanist, Eduardo Rico is founding partner at the London-based practice Relational Urbanism, and teaches at the Architectural Association and the Bartlett. He has developed a new approach to master-planning based on relational models that incorporate architectural concepts, stakeholder negotiations, site constraints and urban policy.

For more details, visit https://memento.epfl.ch/event/lecture-eduardo-rico-relational-urbanism-/

Date Submitted: 13/6/2018

All guests to the AA Graduation Ceremony are invited to participate in Hyperbation: AA Zoo School, a mixed reality (MR) architectural extravaganza. 

Hyperbation: AA Zoo School is an architectural experiment located between physical and digital space, which expands the notions of hyperisation, gamification and hyperlocalisation. Following in a long tradition of wildly extravagant performance and carnival at the AA – typified by former School Director Alvin Boyarsky riding around Bedford Square on an Elephant in 1978 – AA Zoo School takes material from the AA’s Archive, collides it with a cast of virtual characters and will juxtapose multiple environments with the live events of the AA Graduation Ceremony and Projects Review, 22nd June 2018.

Watch the full trailer 

Follow the new hyper-AA-Elephant and enter the AA Zoo School.

*Player Level 1 (Android Phone and iPhone) Ability: Accessing Tracker
*Player Level 2 (iPhone 6S & above or iPad 5th Generation & above) Ability: Accessing APP
*Player Level 3 (Oculus Go) Ability: Accessing virtual reality (VR) 360-degree Video
*Player Level 4 (Oculus Rift) Ability: Accessing virtual reality (VR) Game

For full instructions visit http://hyperbation.space/

Hyperbation: AA Zoo School is designed by Pete Jiadong Qiang (AA Media Practices, MPhil) and Mingxuan Xie(Greenwich University, MArch)

Date Submitted: 12/6/2018

The AA congratulates architect, historian, critic and educator Kenneth Frampton (AADipl 1955) who has been awarded the Golden Lion for Lifetime Achievement of the 16th International Architecture Exhibition of the Venice Biennale.

Trained at the Architectural Association School of Architecture in the early 1950s, and made an Honorary Member of the AA in 2014, Kenneth Frampton has taught since 1972 at the Graduate School of Architecture, Planning, and Preservation at Columbia University, New York. As architect, writer and critic, as teacher and researcher, he has affected and inspired several generations of students and architects. Modern Architecture: A Critical History is one of his most recognized books.

His seminal books include Towards a Critical Regionalism, which was a leader in the influencing of architects to re-value context, place and culture. His Studies on Tectonic Culture was a key work in highlighting the connection between the language of construction and language of architecture. In A Genealogy of Modern Architecture: Comparative Critical Analysis of Built Form, he captures with incisive clarity the inner workings of projects, de-coding them to make them legible for us all.

Yvonne Farrell and Shelley McNamara, curators of the 16th International Architecture Exhibition, said: ‘Through his work, Kenneth Frampton occupies a position of extraordinary insight and intelligence combined with a unique sense of integrity. He stands out as the voice of truth in the promotion of key values of architecture and its role in society. His humanistic philosophy in relation to architecture is embedded in his writing and he has consistently argued for this humanistic component throughout all the various ‘movements’ and trends often misguided in architecture in the 20th and 21st century.

‘His experience as a practicing architect has given him a deep understanding of the process of designing and crafting buildings. This makes him both more sympathetic and more critical of the various forms of the practice of architecture. His consistent values in relation to the impact of architecture on society, together with his intellectual generosity, position him as a uniquely important presence in the world of architecture.’

President of the Venice Biennale, Paolo Baratta added that ‘there is no student of the faculties of architecture who is unfamiliar with his Modern Architecture: A Critical History. The Golden Lion goes this year to a “maestro”, and in this sense it also intended to be a recognition of the importance of the critical approach to the teaching of architecture.’

Read more about this year’s awards at the Venice Biennale here.

Photo courtesy the 16th International Architecture Exhibition of the Venice Biennale

Date Submitted: 1/6/2018

The ‘Design Agency within Earth Systems’ symposium invites submissions to look through planetary lenses to reflect upon the complicity of design in the destruction of the planet; to question the two dimensional, land based political technologies, by which we order our lives and our relations to the earth; to explore the material dimensions of air, ground and ocean as inter-twinings of socio-political and earth systems; and to imagine relations between socio-political and earth systems differently through design.

Speakers for symposium include: Neil Brenner (UTL, Harvard GSD); Stuart Elden (Warwick University); El Hadi Jazairy and Rania Ghosn (Design Earth); Marti Franch (EMF Landscape Architecture) + more.

The aim of this call is for proposals to present projects/papers in a format of 10-minute slide presentation as part of a one-day symposium at the Architectural Association on 26 October 2018.

Submissions are encouraged from designers, researchers, and writers across all disciplines.

Projects/Papers can be professional, academic, speculative, etc. and should highlight designed responses to:

  • The spatial impacts of political economy on the ecological biosphere
  • The unveiling of consequential landscapes produced by metropolitan and urban networks
  • The way weather, climatic and tectonic systems are entangled within politics, culture, and society
  • Technologies and tools by which we can read and re-imagine our relations with earth systems and forms of coevolution with other species
  • Natural disaster and vulnerability events created by political-economic decisions to harness natural forces and resources
  • State and economic systems as environment producers
  • Global environmental injustices produced by political and economic agendas, manifesting at local and regional scales
  • Land ownership and control in urban environments as well as resource exploitation or airspace implications.
  • The conflicts between material exchanges of geologic and atmospheric events and human spatial and temporal scales

Format of submission: A4 PDF document with not more than 6 pages in total. Proposals should include 300 words abstract and no more than 5 images descriptive of the proposed project/paper (drawings, diagrams, cartographies, etc.); please include contact details, affiliation, and a brief CV.

The A4 PDF (10 MB max) should be emailed to: landscapeurbanism@aaschool.ac.uk

Deadline: 07 July 2018 for notification no later than the end of August 2018. Successful applicants will be expected to cover their own costs for travel and accommodation.

Date Submitted: 31/5/2018

The Architectural Association announces the appointment of Eva Franch i Gilabert as the Director of the Architectural Association, effective July 1, 2018.

Franch is the ninth director of the Architectural Association in its 171 year history and the first woman to be elected and appointed Director of the school. Franch succeeds Brett Steele who left his post in 2017 and Samantha Hardingham, who is currently serving as Interim Director.

Elected by the AA School Community, comprising students, academic and administrative staff, and members of Council in March 2018, Eva Franch i Gilabert was selected from a shortlist of three candidates to lead the AA School following a worldwide search.

Her majority vote of 67% represented the largest in a contested election since 1990. A total of 876 members of the School Community voted, representing a turnout of 81.3%, one of the highest levels of participation in Director elections in the last 30 years.

In her statement to the school Franch wrote “More than a school, throughout its history the Architectural Association has been the referent—when not the origin—for the production of relevant forms of inquiry, discourse, and radical practice in architecture schools, cultural institutions, and architecture firms worldwide.”

“I am honoured to be entrusted with the privilege to develop a pedagogical and cultural project at the Architectural Association today” says Franch. “I look forward to building upon the incredible legacy of my predecessors, to work together with the AA Council, staff, students, members, alumni and the extensive AA network in London and abroad to contribute back to a world that needs new referents, new histories, and new ideas.”

Read the full Press Release

Date Submitted: 24/5/2018

AA PhD candidate David Hutama Setiadi has co-curated the Indonesian Pavilion, Sunyata: The Poetics of Emptiness, at the 16th International Architecture Exhibition in Venice, named one of the ten best national pavilions by Metropolis magazine.

Responding to the Biennale’s theme, Freespace, David and his fellow curatorial team members will explore the notion that industrial advancements have made architecture an altar of building elements and grids, and not of a place of human ritualization.

This primacy of form, the team suggest, is discriminating other human senses and spoiling only one, the eye, and that as a result the architectural experience is trapped by this visual centric approach and geometrical gimmicks.

Through the interplay of scale-proportion and tactility, Pavilion Indonesia aims to demonstrate a production of architectural space by embracing emptiness as a cultural-based method to liberate spatial experience from this ocularcentricism and the oppression of grids.

David, who also curated the 2014 exhibition, said: 'I am delighted to have been part of the team curating the Pavilion Indonesia exhibition for a second time, alongside my studies here at the AA.'

He is currently in his second year of a PhD sponsored by the Indonesia Endowment Fund for Education, researching the production of architectural knowledge in Indonesia, especially in the early 20th century.

Pavilion Indonesia 2018 is co-curated by Ary Indrajanto, David Hutama Setiadi, Ardy Hartono Kurniawan, Aditya Dimas Satria, Johanes Adika Gahari, and Jonathan Adutya Gahari.

The 16th International Architecture Exhibition in Venice runs from 26 May to 25 November 2018.

Date Submitted: 22/5/2018

Spring has sprung and the sun dazzles at the stair landing where most of the real communication at the AA happens…

Recent rumblings: with the conclusion of the director search, stairwell chats turned to other matters for the first time in months. Chief among these was the flutter around Mark Cousins’ last Friday night lecture and celebratory plans associated with this finale of a project stretching three decades. Posters went up asking for images of the lecture hall lectern; the object to be addressed in this swansong. Discussions were had estimating the optimum time to grab a seat for this event; just over half an hour was considered prudent. Saving seats, possibly to sell on to highest bidder, was also joked about, such was the excitement this event aroused.

To cap it off, rumours of a glorious supper following the lecture spread. Who was invited? Answer: about a hundred close friends and colleagues from within and without the AA. Which luminaries would show? All of them, including, eventually, Jeff Kipnis. What would be served? Assorted and delicious mezes followed by aubergine, lentils, and lamb bejewelled with pomegranate seeds. Would there be weepy toasts and grand speeches throughout? Oh yes, indeed.

Connectivity: On the same day of Cousins’ lecture, a joint AA/Slade School of Fine Art event organised by Intermediate 14 and LAWuN took over the Front Members’ Room. Students and staff dabbed away at a vast piece of paper clipped to its north wall. Celebrating the rich history of art schools in Bloomsbury, ‘a working drawing between two schools’ emerged full of magenta architectural fragments, purple trees, mustard-coloured birds, and occasional graffiti. 

With no hint of voter fatigue in sight, the School went again to the polls to elect its first Staff Council Member. With twenty years of experience at the AA, Joel Newman got the nod and there were hearty congratulations bubbling up around the bar. Joel promised not to let this new role go to his head as he popped a jeroboam of champagne and called for his chauffeur.

At the top of the stairwell the Admissions Office has been running at full speed processing applications for the next academic year. Mountain ranges of portfolios took shape before tutors jumped in to review files. Whereas most of the world has gone for digital portfolio uploads, the AA still requires lovable hardcopies. No small task, several Unit Masters and Programme Directors spent long stretches of several evenings looking at what will be future cohorts joining the School. 

Gossip about gossip columns: AA graduate and MIT professor Neri Oxman was featured in The Sun and Daily Mail with headlines, “Brad Pitt and Neri Oxman: 'Infatuated' couple 'talk on the phone several times a day'” and “Brad Pitt’s new ‘girlfriend’ Neri Oxman looks just like his ex, Angelina Jolie, as she’s spotted carrying a bunch of flowers.” The revelation that the professor “took a leaf out of the famous actress’ book wearing an all-black outfit with a pair of large shades” caused giggles as everyone pointed out an all-black outfit merely signalled she was an architect. More interesting and relevant, CNN.com offered a feature and interview with Oxman showcasing her research and “breaking boundaries in a male-dominated world” without a word about Mr Pitt. 

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: 11/5/2018


The AA School in realtime



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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 Certificate), 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.