Professional Practice Studies

Professional Practice Studies

Theo Lorenz, Javier Castañón, Kim Parsons

Developing an understanding of architectural practice is a requirement in the Intermediate and Diploma Schools, and specific courses are run for Third Year and Fifth Year students. A Professional Studies Advisor is available for year-out students and post-Part 2 students to help with work experience. Developing practice experience is essential preparation for the final Part 3 examination that may be taken after several years' office experience working on building projects.

Part 1
Professional Practice for Third Year
Javier Castañón

This course prepares Third Year students for their year out, a time for practical training taken after completion of RIBA Part 1. It aims to provide students with an idea of what working in an architectural practice entails. Students will learn how to 'make themselves useful' in an office with the intent that the sooner they are perceived as useful, the sooner they will become part of the action and the more they will benefit from the experience.

Part 2
Architectural Professional Practice for Fifth Year
Theo Lorenz

This course develops and deepens the professional practice themes introduced in the Intermediate School and encountered in year-out work experience and integrates these with design considerations. The course is delivered through a series of lectures and seminars on key issues relating to the professional contexts of design and construction, as well as examples of and strategies for conventional and unconventional models of practice in preparation for the next stages of work experience and professional qualification.

Professional Practice
The AA was founded on the premise that young architects wanted to redefine the experience and meaning of their own education and practice. Today at the AA, this view remains as crucial as ever. Throughout the history of the AA, students have sought to reinvent and extend the scope of architecture, developing, as a result, an alternative professional practice as a challenge to the status quo. From the British novelist Thomas Hardy, to Mark Fisher, inventor of the modern rock stage; from product designer Ron Arad to the Michelin-starred chef Fergus Henderson; not least the paradigm-shifting architects like Bernard Tschumi, Rem Koolhaas and Zaha Hadid - the list of graduates who have gone on to lead remarkable lives in not only architecture but numerous other fields of the arts, culture and science is seemingly endless. Through their work both in units and outside the AA, students are encouraged to be leaders and entrepreneurs, individually and collectively, thus enabling them to set out as the next generation of innovators.

Over the course of their five years at the AA students are exposed to a broad spectrum of ideas. However, between unit work, crits, tables and their Complementary Studies courseload, it can be difficult to make time to think about how they might professionally translate their ideas into their professional future. This is all the more true within the final year of the Diploma School. The Alternative Professional Practice course will give students both that time and the framework to formulate clear ideas and strategies for what they want to do - how to archive their student work and plan for their future once they receive their diploma in June.

Each student will be asked to present and submit a business plan laying out their own individual practice, which starts the day after graduation. Supporting this work will be a tranche of references, case studies and case stories that are relevant to the student's ideas. The format of the submission depends entirely on the approach of the individual and should be in itself an example of the actuated form of practice. The process will be framed by a series of seminars and lectures showing various forms of practice, networks and business models.

Unit Staff

Javier Castañón has taught at the AA since 1978 and is in private practice as director of Castañón Associates (London) and Castañón Asociados (Madrid).

Theo Lorenz is an architect, painter and media artist. Trespassing between art and architecture, his interests lie at the convergence of digital and physical space. He has taught at the AA since 2000 and has directed the AA Interprofessional Studio since 2008.


AA School of Architecture Admissions (Undergraduate)
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More Information


Prospectus 2016-17
AA Prospectus

Foundation Course Booklet
Foundation Course Booklet

Undergraduate Course Booklet
Undergraduate Course Booklet

Language courses


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