Housing and Urbanism MA/MArch London Design Workshop - sketch proposals for two interventions in East London, providing linked spaces of association

Directors: Jorge Fiori, Hugo Hinsley
Staff: Lawrence Barth, Nicholas Bullock, Elad Eisenstein, Dominic Papa, Elena Pascolo, Anna Shapiro, Naiara Vegara, Francesco Zuddas

As today's metropolitan regions become more diverse and complex, they reveal significant global shifts in the patterns of urban growth and decline. Architecture has a central role to play in this dynamic context, both in the development of spatial strategies as part of urban policies and in the generation of new urban clusters and types. The Housing and Urbanism programme focuses on these important changes to the contemporary urban condition and investigates how architectural intelligence can help us understand and respond to these trends. Offered as a 12-month MA or 16-month MArch, the programme agenda is balanced between cross-disciplinary research and design applications, with student work divided across three areas: design workshops; lectures and seminars; and a written thesis (MA) or design thesis (MArch), allowing students to develop an extended and focused study within the broader themes of the course.


Lecture Courses and Seminars

Design Workshop, Terms 1-3 The Design Workshop makes up the core of Housing and Urbanism, providing a framework for linking design investigation to a politically and historically informed approach to issues of contemporary urbanism. Students and tutors form small teams to explore and develop design responses to well-defined urban challenges. The workshop also runs seminars for students, visiting scholars and practitioners to debate different approaches to key themes. Both individual and group design as well as written work comprise the output of the workshop. While each team pursues distinctive lines of investigation, the seminars and individual work give each student the opportunity to develop their own approaches to issues in urbanism today. Because the focus of Housing and Urbanism is on the urban inner periphery where the complexity of the urban process is plainly visible, each team defines the balance and integration of architectural, social and political concepts that drive its work, giving every project a distinctive style and character. This year our main site of investigation is an area on the inner periphery of London, which will be considered within the larger context of the capital and the metropolitan region. Widening our scope, an intensive design workshop will also be held outside the UK to allow students to test conceptual and design approaches through collaborations with other urbanism programmes and city governments. Cost estimates for travel and expenses are available from the AA School's graduate office.

Cities in a Transnational World, Term 1

This course explores the social and economic context of housing and urbanism, focusing on its relationship to development strategies and the evolving role of architects and planners in the making of cities. It offers a comparative analysis of city restructuring given the current internationalisation of the world economy. Emphasis is placed on policy and planning issues as well as current reforms in systems of urban governance.

The Reason of Urbanism, Term 1

This lecture and discussion series provides the foundations for an engagement with the urban as a problem-field in western governmental reasoning. Tracing the twentieth-century development of urbanism to highlight its inherent political issues, the course will develop a theoretical perspective through the works of Arendt, Foucault and Sennett, while investigating the relationship of key political concepts to the generation of new urban spatialities.

Critical Urbanism, Terms 1 & 2

This course will explore urbanism's role as an instrument of diagnosis and critique. Beginning with lectures and readings in Term 1 and building towards a seminar format in Term 2, the course explores the ways architecture has generated a range of critical and reflexive responses to the city over the last four decades. Readings by architects from the late twentieth century to the present will provide the background and context for students to develop their own critical analyses of contemporary urban projects.

Shaping the Modern City, Terms 1 & 2

This course compares various national and local strategies that have evolved to meet the challenges of urban expansion in the past 100 years. Rather than presenting a continuous narrative history, the course looks at key events, projects and texts that illustrate contemporary responses to the opportunities and problems created by growth. With a focus on postwar housing and planning in Europe and the US, the course will consider issues such as density, regeneration, mixed use and new working and living patterns. Housing and the Informal City, Term 2 By using housing as a strategic vehicle for investigating the informal and irregular process of city-making, this course explores how urbanism and design can be used to address an increase in de-spatialisation strategies and their associated social conditions. With reference to projects and programmes in cities of the developing world, the course will identify appropriate tools and instruments of spatial intervention and design, examining their articulation by redesigning urban institutions and rules.

Domesticity, Term 2

This seminar series explores contemporary multi-residential housing trends. Taking Mies van der Rohe's patio houses of the 1930s and Karel Teige's 1932 critique of the minimum dwelling as counterpoints, the course develops students' understanding of type and diagram in the pursuit of fresh approaches to urban living. Core readings for the final submitted essay include the writing of Michel Foucault, Jacques Donzelot and Nikolas Rose.

Thesis Seminar, Term 3

This seminar is intended to support work on the written or design thesis, providing a forum for students to discuss their work-in-progress with members of staff, invited critics and each other.

Other Events

Each year the programme makes a study trip to a European city for comparative research. Additionally, a number of academics and practitioners from all over the world are invited to contribute to the programme. Students are also encouraged to attend complementary courses offered by other programmes within the AA School.

12 months

16 months


Jorge Fiori is a sociologist and urban planner. He has worked in academic institutions in Chile, Brazil and England, as a visiting lecturer at several Latin American and European universities and consultant to a number of international and national urban development agencies. He researches and publishes on housing and urban development, with particular focus on the interplay of spatial strategies and urban social policy.

Hugo Hinsley is an architect with expertise in urban development projects and housing design. He has a range of practice experience and has consulted on many projects in Europe, Australia and the US. He has taught and published internationally. His current research includes London's design and planning, particularly in the Docklands and East London; urban policy and structure in European cities; and rethinking concepts of density.

Lawrence Barth lectures on urbanism and political theory, and has written on the themes of politics and critical theory in relation to the urban. He is a consultant urbanist on large-scale strategic projects to architects, cities, and governments, and is engaged in research on urban intensification, innovation environments, and the transformation of workspace in the knowledge economy.

Nicholas Bullock studied architecture at Cambridge University and completed a PhD under Leslie Martin. His research includes issues of housing reform with a special interest in Germany; postwar housing design and policy; and the architecture and planning of postwar reconstruction.

Elad Eisenstein is a director for urban design at Mecanoo and also leads its London office. He has experience designing and delivering a wide range of projects with sustainable place-making at their core, including new eco-cities, large-scale metropolitan centres and complex city centre sites.

Dominic Papa is a founding partner of the practice s333 Studio for Architecture and Urbanism, which has won awards for projects across Europe. He is a design review panel member for CABE and has been a jury member for a number of international competitions.

Elena Pascolo has trained and worked in London and South Africa on large-scale housing and urban regeneration projects. Her research focuses on the development of spatial tools that structure complex urban strategies, and the role of institutions in promoting urban transformation. She has participated as a design tutor in numerous international workshops on design and urbanism.

Anna Shapiro studied architecture and urban planning at Tel Aviv University and the AA School. She has worked for a number of architectural practices and is currently an urban designer at Sheppard Robson Architects. She is part of Collective Formations, an international design research group, and is also an artist and illustrator.

Naiara Vegara directs the Fundatión Metropóli Design LAAB London and the AA Visiting School Semester Programme. Naiara has been a visiting critic at many architecture schools, and has presented her research on virtual environments and the design process in architecture at workshops hosted by Columbia University, Princeton and the University of Pennsylvania.

Francesco Zuddas completed a PhD on the space of the university as a critical testing ground for an idea of the city. He co-directs the practice "urbanaarchitettura", focusing on domestic projects and urbanism. In 2013-14 he was a visiting research scholar at GSAPP, Columbia University. He teaches at Leeds School of Architecture and at Central Saint Martins in London.

Programme site


Projects Review 2017


Graduate Admissions Team AA School of Architecture
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T: 020 7887 4067 / 4007

Links & Downloads


Prospectus 2017-18
AA Prospectus

Graduate Prospectus
Graduate Prospectus


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