Diploma 1 Ryan Cook, Oh, A13, Diploma 1, 2017–18

LONDON SUPERNOVA: THE PATAPHYSICS OF URBAN FRAGMENTATION

Miraj Ahmed, Martin Jameson

‘Pataphysics will examine the laws governing exceptions and will explain the universe supple- mentary to this one.’
– Alfred Jarry, Exploits and Opinions of Dr Faustroll, Pataphysician, 1911

The science of stellar evolution seeks to understand how stars are formed from clouds of gas and dust, grow in mass with orbiting planetary systems and eventually explode as supernova. We tend to conceive of the universe as unchanging and eternal. The reality is that it is in a constant flux of birth and death. Cities are much the same: they grow rapidly when economic conditions are favourable, pulling in immigrants and developing mass in the form of physical infrastructure. But as conditions change they become unstable, hollow out and fragment.

London is a case in point. In ancient times a satellite of Rome, London subsequently grew to become a global centre of gravity. But is it now approaching its own supernova phase? Over the last 30 years the city has exploited the growth of global financial markets while slowly unpicking its own social infrastructure. The result &ndsah; a bloated and unbalanced city propped up by precarious real estate prices. The most global of cities, London is now also the most exposed to the disintegration of the international system of free trade and cooperation established in the middle of the twentieth century.

Diploma 1 will speculate on the potential of this particular moment in the evolution of the city. Our research will focus on the tension between urban density and fragmentation, the centre and the satellite, the collective and the atomised. This enquiry will include the role of technology in altering our experience of time, space and location. We will use the imaginary science of pataphysics as a research methodology; a mystical nineteenth century literary device, pataphysics explores the uncertain, the exception and the surreal. We will continue to encourage lmic and time-based representational techniques, large-scale model-making and engagement with the mythical. The resulting speculations for a future London will push the limits of the polemic in order to tease out the possible.

Extended Brief

Unit Staff

Miraj Ahmed is a painter and architect who has taught at the AA since 2000. He is also an Associate Lecturer at Camberwell College of Art and was a Design Fellow at the University of Cambridge (2006-14).

Martin Jameson is a partner at Serie Architects. He has an AA Diploma (Hons), a BA in Philosophy and Politics from the University of Oxford, and an MBA from IMD, Switzerland.





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Prospectus 2018-19
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Special Programmes Course Booklet
Special Programmes Course Booklet


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Undergraduate Course Booklet


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