Design + Make MArch / MSc Design + Make students developing a steam-bending jig for curving whole trees for the sawmill shelter project at Hooke Park, photo Valerie Bennett

Programme Directors Martin Self, Emmanuel Vercruysse
Studio Tutors Zachary Mollica, Jack Draper
Thesis Tutor Mark Campbell
Construction Advisor Charley Brentnall

Design + Make operates as an agency of architectural innovation and presents a unique and alternative vision for architectural education where making is central to the act of design. Our hands-on approach to architectural research is guided and directed by an in-depth understanding of materials. Combining traditional craft with cutting-edge technologies we develop and fabricate our own unique and innovative tools and operational systems. Placing the emphasis on the fabrication of exciting and unpredictable architectures, the programme explicitly aims to maximise the learning opportunities presented by the realisation of design intent and reconnects with the true nature of architecture: designing + making.

The AA's satellite campus at Hooke Park, Dorset, is home to Design+Make, the MArch and MSc graduate programme and laboratory for architectural research through 1:1 fabrication. Set in an environment that combines forest, studio, workshop and building sites, the large-scale fabrication facilities of Hooke Park act as a testing ground for students to advance their own research through hands-on approaches, designing and building architecture in an idyllic forest ecosystem that serves as both the material library and site for architectural experimentation.

The core agenda of Design+Make is to advance the materialisation of architecture through the synthesis of advanced technologies, craft techniques and deep understanding of natural material and geometry. The key proposition is that new digital design and fabrication technologies, such as 3D scanning, generative modelling and robotic fabrication, enable traditional making techniques to be reinvented as innovative processes for architecture. Design+Make operates as an agency of architectural innovation and presents a unique and alternative vision for architectural education.

Course Details

The programme begins with a four-week Induction Studio. The subsequent Core Studio offers the first opportunity to build a temporary inhabitable structure in the woodland. Seminar courses run alongside the studios and cover agendas of ruralism, timber technologies and the cultural theories of making. These taught components are then applied in the main projects - for MSc students a 1:1 prototype, for MArch students a group-designed building for the Hooke Park campus. The programme concludes with an individually written dissertation that presents the constructed project as evidence of an argument concerning the practice and realisation of architecture.

Studio Projects

Induction Project

The four-week Induction Studio is a series of classes and tutorial-workshops that introduces students the fundamental Design+Make skill base and methodology. The studio is organised according to key subjects: CADCAM - formulating information for digital manufacturing; documentary filmmaking - techniques and strategies; analogue fabrication techniques; generative design stategies; introduction to robotic kinematics; applied scanning techniques.

Core Project

Following the induction, the six-week Core Studio introduces the material processes of full-scale experimental construction at Hooke Park and develops a design+make approach driven by the material and landscape of the woodland site. Here, the focus is placed on the development of a reciprocal design methodology comprising on-site making and studio-based representation. The construction of temporary inhabitable structures serves as the research and testing ground for architectural ideas and technologies later developed in the main projects.

Main Project

The main project consists of the design and construction of full-scale architectural structures at Hooke Park. Designs are developed through prototyping, mock-up and physical testing in collaboration with engineering consultants and specialist builders. For the MSc students, this prototyping exercise is completed in a full-scale experimental timber construction at the end of Term 3, which forms the research basis for the subsequent MSc dissertations. This prototype is designed with the explicit intent to test new architectural applications of timber and radically exploit the woodland and fabrication resources (including new robotic fabrication equipment) of Hooke Park. For MArch students, the main project involves the collective design and construction of an experimental permanent building either at the Hooke Park campus or off site. Construction starts in Term 3 and is completed in the autumn. The range of research topics is broader than the MSc and may encompass individual interests in environmental and construction technologies, alternative forms of design practice or issues relating to Hooke Park's topographic and cultural landscape.

Seminar Courses

Making as Design

This seminar explores the architectural design philosophies that prioritise making and equips students with an understanding of the argument that embodied interaction with the real-world artefact is fundamental to design. Sessions explore an instrumental use of making, building up a typology of mechanisms through which making is used in architectural design.

Agendas of Ruralism

This series asks students to situate Design+Make projects within the context of the English rural condition, thereby introducing the cultural and societal aspects of the landscape where Hooke Park operates. The course provides students with the knowledge and mechanisms to form an intellectual position with respect to contemporary debates surrounding rural architectures and cultural heritage in our specific geographic, historical and environmental context.

Timber Design & Technologies

Invited speakers will present a survey of timber applications in architecture and the technologies of its innovative use in design. Analyses of traditional techniques, material and engineering principles and emerging timber fabrication technologies will spur a theoretical and practical attitude towards timber design that embraces inventive application.


For the MSc students the dissertation presents the technical design research carried out during the development of the constructed timber prototype and proposes future applications. For the MArch students the thesis presents an argument on a topic related to the theory or practice of architectural design within a design+build context, through an analysis of the design and production of the Hooke Park built project as evidence.

16 months
MSc (Timber Technologies)
12 months


Martin Self is Director of Hooke Park and co-director of the Design + Make programme. He is an engineer and designer who has taught design and theory at the AA since 2004, and has provided structural engineering and form-finding consultancy within practices including Arup, Zaha Hadid Architects and Antony Gormley Studio.

Emmanuel Vercruysse is co-director of the Design + Make programme. He is an architect, artist, craftsman and robotics specialist, with in-depth experience of both traditional and digital craft. Emmanuel is co-founder of art practice LiquidFactory, the field robotics group RAVEN and a member of the design collective Sixteen Makers.

Zachary Mollica Design + Make's studio tutor, supports the ongoing development of student projects. An architect and maker, his work explores the integration of innovative digital methodologies such as 3D scanning alongside traditional craft knowledge. Zac graduated with distinction from Design + Make in 2016.

Jack Draper leads the fabrication process for Design + Make. His knowledge of craft and experience in making serve to help deliver complex and challenging projects as well as enriching what the students learn through their making - contributing to a culture of design which fuses tacit knowledge and haptic design processes with cutting edge technology.

Mark Campbell has taught history and design at the AA since 2004. He directs the MPhil in Media Practices.

Charley Brentnallis a timber-framing contractor who has played a pivotal role in the renaissance of timber framing in the UK.

The AA is a Partner Institution and Affiliated Research Centre of The Open University (OU), UK. All taught graduate degrees at the AA are validated by the OU. The OU is the awarding body for research degrees at the AA.

Programme site

Projects Review 2017


Graduate Admissions Team AA School of Architecture
36 Bedford Square
London WC1B 3ES

T: 020 7887 4067 / 4007

Links & Downloads


Prospectus 2017-18
AA Prospectus

Graduate Prospectus
Graduate Prospectus


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