MA History & Critical Thinking Eileen Gray & Jean Badovici, living room and guest room, E-1027, 1929, from L-Architecture vivante, 1929

Director: Marina Lathouri
Staff: Brian Hatton, John Palmesino, Caroline Rabourdin, Douglas Spencer
Visiting Tutors: Tim Benton, Fabrizio Gallanti

The MA History and Critical Thinking is a unique postgraduate platform for engaging with contemporary architecture and city cultures through history - its writings, conceptual assumptions and methodologies. For the past 20 years, the 12-month programme has continually evolved to position itself within current arguments, debates and practices. Rather than dealing with history, architecture and the city exclusively through buildings and methodological classifications, History and Critical Thinking attempts to transform these very topics into resources for understanding processes, spatial artefacts and built forms. The programme's ambition is threefold: to connect contemporary debates and projects to a wider historical, cultural and political context; to explore historical writing and the ways in which social, political and cultural agendas become effective arguments in particular accounts of architectural and urban modernity; to investigate forms of research, communication and practice technologies in the context of recent cultural and geopolitical developments to produce knowledge that relates to practices and public cultures in architecture. Collaborations with AA undergraduate design units, participation in juries and architectural visits allow opportunities to engage with design speculation. The programme also benefits greatly from the dynamism of the AA School and provides research facilities and supervision to MPhil and PhD candidates registered under our joint PhD programme, a cross-disciplinary initiative supported across the graduate school.

Writing is essential to the programme, both as a practice of thinking and as a form of communication. Different modes of writing - theses, essays, reviews, commentaries, tweets and interviews - are explored to frame various aspects of study. The course is organised around a number of lectures, seminars, debates, writing sessions and workshops led by distinguished practitioners from a range of backgrounds.

The course recruits a wide range of students - not all are trained architects - who have developed a particular interest in issues of space, architectural and urban debates. Students consider the programme a step towards doctoral research; as a way to reorient their professional development from the practice of architecture into other fields such as museum and gallery work, journalism or other architecture- and art-related fields; or as the start of a career in teaching. Each year a small number act as seminar tutors for the AA's History and Theory undergraduate programme.


Marina Lathouri studied architecture and philosophy of art and aesthetics. Along with directing History and Critical Thinking at the AA, she lectures at Cambridge University and is a visiting professor at the Universidad de Navarra, Spain and the Universidad Catolica in Santiago, Chile. Her writing has been widely published, and she has co-authored Intimate Metropolis: Urban Subjects in the Modern City (Routledge 2008) and City Cultures: Contemporary Positions on the City (AA Publications 2010).

Brian Hatton has taught a number of courses at the AA since the 1980s. He is a Graham Foundation grant recipient and was 2009 Senior Mellon Fellow at the Canadian Centre for Architecture. He has published work in AA Files, Architectural Review, Art Monthly, ARQ and Lotus, among other journals and publications.

John Palmesino is an architect and urbanist and has founded Territorial Agency, an independent organisation that combines research and action for sustainable spatial transformations. Recent projects include the Museum of Oil with Greenpeace and Anthropocene Observatory. He is Unit Master at Diploma 4, and convenes the MA in Research Architecture at Goldsmiths.

Caroline Rabourdin graduated from the INSA Strasbourg, the Bartlett (UCL) and has completed PhD Thesis at Chelsea College of Arts. She has practised in architectural offices in Paris and London and has taught at the ESA in Paris, UAL, as well as the University of Greenwich. At the AA she is also a lecturer in Media Studies and directs the Paris Visiting School for architects writing practice.

Douglas Spencer has studied architectural history, cultural studies, and critical theory. His recent writings include contributions to The Missed Encounter of Architecture with Philosophy, Architecture Against the Post-Political and New Geographies 6: Grounding Metabolism. He recently published The Architecture of Neoliberalism.

Visiting Tutors

Tim Benton taught for 40 years at the Open University and has been a visiting professor at numerous schools around the world. He is a noted scholar of the works of Le Corbusier but has also worked on Italian architecture in the 1930s and on Art Deco. More recently, he has been working with the Association Cap Moderne on the restoration of the villa E-1027, Le Corbusier's cabanon and the Étoile de mer and Unités de camping at Roquebrune-Cap-Martin. His book, Le Corbusier peintre à Cap Martin, was awarded the Prix du Livre de la Méditérrannée.

Fabrizio Gallanti was the associate director of programmes at the Canadian Centre of Architecture and the first recipient of the Mellon Senior Fellow at Princeton University School of Architecture. He has conducted several cycles of lectures and international seminars: multiplicity. He curates exhibitions and frequently writes for international architecture magazines and journals.

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.

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