IMAGE HERE Diagram: Independents Group five proposed academic partners

A Global Network of Independent Organisations in Digital Design and Manufacturing

The Independents Group is a new programme at the AA that will establish a four-year experimental learning network comprising design and industrial leaders at the forefront of new computational thinking in architecture. The group seeks to harness the collective knowledge and experimentation of each of its partners to inform a larger, global network of expertise operating at the forefront of today's revolution in design, collaborative platforms and manufacturing capability.

Initiated by the AA School, the proposed partners for the Independents Group (IG) include four of the world's leading independent architecture and design schools: California College of Art, San Francisco; Control Shift at Hong Kong University, The Central Academy of Fine Art in Beijing; and SIAL at RMIT in Melbourne. Each of the IG's five academic partners are operating independent research initiatives outside of the conventional bureaucratic settings that now often dominate advanced research. Their independence and smaller size allows them to be more responsive to cutting-edge computational design and manufacturing.

The programme will enable collaborative project-based research and experimentation through a new annual residency programme open to graduates from the partnered schools. Residencies will be offered on a competitive basis to the most outstanding graduates from all five academic partners, and the award recipients will have the opportunity to develop prototype projects for public presentation, exhibition and publication in collaboration with consultants and manufacturing partners under the guidance of the IG team. The programme will be launched at the first global conference for the group held at the AA in the 2011 autumn term.


Alan Dempsey is founding director of NEX, an award winning London based office with an international profile, working at the intersections of design, architecture and infrastructure. Alan has previously been a Unit Tutor in the AA Intermediate School and was director of the AA|FAB Research Cluster from 2006-2009.

Alan's work has been widely published in the US, Europe and Asia, and was selected to represent the UK at the Beijing Architecture Biennale in 2008. Alan was selected by the British Council as one of the six most significant Design Entrepreneurs in the UK in 2008, and in 2010 was selected by the EU Centre for Architecture & Chicago Athenaeum as one of the 40 most significant architects under 40 in the EU.

Jeroen van Ameijde is a registered architect and currently working as Head of Digital Prototyping and Unit Master of Intermediate Unit 6 at the Architectural Association. He has practiced in Holland, New York and Hong Kong and taught in a graduate design studio at the University of Pennsylvania. He has been teaching at the AA since 2007, working with various programs including the Design Research Lab graduate programme and several international visiting schools.


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