Diploma 12 Nicholas Zembashi, Terra Media – The Edgeless World, Diploma 12, 2017–18


Inigo Minns, Manijeh Verghese

‘It matters what matters we use to think other matters with; it matters what stories we tell to tell other stories with ... It matters what stories make worlds, what worlds make stories.’ Donna J. Haraway, Staying with the Trouble: Making Kin in the Chthulucene, 2016

We are living in a material world. Inscribed within any material are geography, history, politics, economics, social structures and power – all stratified within matter as scripts waiting to be revealed and read. These materials when refined and processed for use lose their innocence. No longer neutral and passive, they become enmeshed in our value and belief systems and take on new meanings and worth.

This year Diploma 12 probes the implications of existing materials and processes: taking them as weak signals in the present that suggest possibilities for the near future. In a similar manner to Formafantasma’s Ore Streams, where spaces made from salvaged materials are juxtaposed with images of Mars to reference the extraterrestrial origin of these materials, we will seek out new ways to map ows of matter and their impact on our built environments and social spaces. We will investigate raw minerals taken from the earth for refinement and living matter harvested for use: we will look at born-digital substances and spiritually imbued matter resonant with power and meaning, while questioning the true nature of these materials, to reconsider them for what they could be, as drivers for architecture.

Through a precise design methodology, as well as workshops with practitioners from different disciplines, the unit will continue to develop individual forms of strategic architectural practice. We will help develop the student’s expertise – focusing on how to express spatial agendas through diverse media and modes of operation. Armed in this way, with both an urgent agenda and a re ned technical ability, we will investigate how to employ materials beyond just their aesthetic, formal or experiential qualities, transforming them into agents of change.


Inigo Minns works with architecture, performance and curation to create experiences supported by critical practice. In addition to his teaching at the AA, he has taught in a range of disciplines both in the UK and abroad.

Manijeh Verghese is an architect of ideas, audiences and connections. She is interested in different forms of practice, and the communication of architecture through various media and formats. Alongside teaching Diploma 12, she directs the AA Public Programme.

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